Did you know February is American Heart Month? It’s the perfect time to raise awareness about heart disease and share a few heart-healthy tips for seniors.
1. Follow a heart-healthy diet. Low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, colorful fruits and vegetables are great for your heart. Seniors should get at least five servings per day of these nutrition all-stars. Read all nutrition labels and limit saturated and trans fats and added sugars. Buy plenty of nuts and high-fiber foods. Avoid high-fat dairy or meats and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Never skip breakfast.
2. Stay active. Regular physical activity can help you lose excess body weight, improve physical fitness and well-being, and lower your risk for many conditions, including heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Think brisk walking, dancing, or gardening—anything that gets you up and moving instead of sitting for hours every day.
3. Maintain a healthy weight. The more body fat you have, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer. But losing weight can help to lower many of these levels and improve your overall health. Following a heart-healthy diet and being physically active can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Try some of these additional tips for improving overall health and well-being.
4. Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol under control. Two of the major risks for heart disease are high blood pressure, or stiffness of the large arteries which becomes common with age, and high blood cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. If these numbers are high, work with your doctors to lower them.
5. Minimize unnecessary stress. Studies show that higher stress levels can trigger a heart attack or angina. Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. Chronic stress can affect your memory, learning, immune system, anxiety, and depression, especially as you age. If you’re feeling stressed, especially if you’re caregiving for a loved one, talk about your concerns with a loved one, your primary care physician, or a licensed therapist. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise, including relaxation techniques like yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
6. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is key to good health and well-being. It’s an important time to support healthy brain function and maintain general good health, but not enough Americans get the recommended hours of sleep each day. Over time, not getting enough sleep can raise your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. There are several steps you can take to improve your sleep habits: avoid nicotine and caffeine, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, keep your bedroom quiet and cool and dark.