February is known as the month of love but fittingly, it’s also heart awareness month. This is the perfect time to raise awareness about heart disease and share some tips for seniors to keep their hearts healthy. If you didn’t already know, heart disease is the #1 killer for Americans, and seniors 65 and older are at higher risk for a heart attack, stroke, or coronary heart disease. While you can live with some of these conditions it can result in a poor quality of life with limited activity. It’s never too late to start taking better care of your heart, and we have a few tips that can get you on the right path.
- A Healthy Diet, Really. Honestly, how many times will you need to read this somewhere before you do something about it? Your heart health requires nutrient-dense foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Colorful in-season fruits and vegetables are great for your heart. Ideally, you should have five servings a day of the above foods. It’s important to limit sugars, saturated and trans fats as much as possible. Remember to read all the ingredient labels as packaging can be misleading and falsely labeled as “heart healthy.” Let this be the moment that you finally say, “Alright already, I’ll make a real effort to eat less junk!”
- Stay Active. Next to a healthy diet, consistent activity is the next best thing for your heart. Regular exercise can lower your risk for many conditions even beyond your heart. Aim for at least thirty minutes a day, and if possible, twice a day. This can include brisk walking, chair yoga, and a low-impact workout. If you have other health conditions it is good to check in with your primary care doctor before starting a new routine.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight. Watching your weight goes hand in hand with a healthy diet and regular activity. If you are overweight it is more likely that you will develop heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure just to name a few. Consult your doctor to make sure your BMI (body mass index) is in a healthy range.
- Manage your current health conditions. If you already have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol it is crucial to make sure you’re managing them properly. A healthy diet and exercise will help immensely but talk to your primary doctor to see if there is anything else you need to do. If your numbers are too high your doctor might add in a medication to help lower them to a safe level.
- Reduce Stress. Unnecessary stress can trigger a heart attack or contribute to high blood pressure and other heart-related conditions. If you’re feeling excess stress, see if there is a way to reduce it, ask for help, talk to your doctor, and practice relaxing activities to help lower your stress levels. This can include reading a nice book, taking a warm bath, chatting with loved ones, and even a good night’s sleep can go a long way. We encourage you to find what works best for you as this is not a one size fits all situation.
- Know the Symptoms. Early heart disease can be barely noticeable so being aware of possible symptoms can help. It’s important to not push off any of these symptoms due to age. Heart Disease symptoms can include but are not limited to: pain, numbness, tingling, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, confusion, headaches, cold sweats, nausea, fatigue, and swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, stomach, or neck. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please contact your doctor immediately.
Maintain A Healthy Heart, Mind, and Body at UMC Bristol Glen.
At UMC Bristol Glen we offer the support you need for heart health, and other kinds of health issue you or your loved one may have, from high blood pressure, to mobility issues, to diabetes and many many more. All while maintaining the dignity and independence of our residents.
If you would like to learn more about senior life at Bristol Glen, contact us today or visit our website at https://umcommunities.org/bristolglen/
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/bristolglen/blog/maintain-a-healthy-heart/