What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to take care of your heart?
February is American Heart Month, and when it comes to heart disease in the United States, it’s especially important for the senior population to be conscious of their heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Since the elderly are more at risk for heart disease, this month is important in educating, preventing, and addressing heart disease.
Fortunately, most of the factors that help to prevent heart disease are modifiable, lifestyle changes that you can take control of.
Here are five heart healthy tips that seniors can adopt this month to enhance cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease:
- Eat the rainbow. A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease and promote a heart-healthy diet, helping to control weight and blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Stay active. Strive to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise five or six days a week. This can include exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, cycling, and aerobics. Talk to your doctor about which activities would be best for you.
- Learn to manage stress. According to the American Heart Association, chronic stress and anxiety are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, spending time with pets, or even just talking to a friend are all quality stress-reduction practices. There are endless outlets that can help to reduce the stress in your life.
- Get enough sleep. Older adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night. Poor-quality sleep can lead to increased risk of heart disease by causing disruptions in your metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation. A full night’s sleep is imperative in brain functionality, emotional well-being, metabolism, immune function, and for damaged cell and tissue repair. Try avoiding excess caffeine during the day, and establish a bedtime routine that you stick to.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a huge risk factor for heart disease, and the leading cause of preventable death. It can irritate vessels and cause damage to artery walls. Even later in life, quitting smoking can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Heart disease is preventable—all the tips above are modifiable lifestyle changes that can greatly reduce your risk for chronic disease. Creating a heart-healthy lifestyle does not have to be done alone. Create an accountability group with family and friends to keep your heart-healthy goals on track. Our caregivers can help to make a heart-healthy meal, encourage activity, and help your loved one stick to a routine in order to take better care of themselves and their hearts.