By: Andrea Teeters on February 23rd, 2023
Heart Health Tips for Older Adults
February is American Heart Month and is a good time for anyone - especially seniors to reevaluate their cardiovascular health.
People who are aged 65 and above are more inclined to suffer from heart-related issues. This includes high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease, and heart failure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but the good news is you can take charge of reducing your risk by following these tips.
Exercise Regularly - Older adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, five times a week. In addition to aerobic exercise, you should include two days of strength training and three days of balance exercises throughout the week. Regular exercise makes your heart stronger, improves circulation, decreases your triglyceride levels, and also helps you lower your blood pressure.
Healthy Eating – Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do. Up to 80% of early heart disease and stroke can be prevented through lifestyle choices, such as a healthy diet and being physically active. Eating a healthy diet that includes:
- Foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, added sugars, and salt
- Variety of fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean meat and low-fat dairy products
- Less sugary drinks, staying hydrated with water
Manage Stress – Managing stress can help reduce the tension on your heart. Try exercise, get a massage, spend time with your pet, listen to music, spend time in nature, or have a hot bath. Whenever you feel anxious, you can also practice some mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. If you are having a hard time managing your stress, seek professional help. For immediate assistance, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number: 9-8-8. Anyone who calls the national 9-8-8 phone number will immediately be connected to local call centers for safe, supportive, and confidential mental health services.
Manage Your Weight - Carrying excess weight can put you at a higher risk for a variety of chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Some ways you can maintain a healthy weight include eating healthy food options, portion control, replacing sugary drinks with water, and being physically active.
Limit Alcohol – Alcohol in excessive amounts, can elevate your blood pressure. Those with chronic health conditions should not drink a lot. People with heart disease may experience having their condition worsen if they are a heavy drinker. You should also avoid alcohol if you are on certain medications, especially blood thinners.
Regular Doctor Visits - Never put off seeing a doctor on a regular basis. Seeing your doctor consistently can help you spot any signs of heart disease. Make sure that you are religious about taking your medication, and maybe put them into pillboxes for easy tracking.
Quit Smoking – CDC states, “That smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.” Estimates show smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times. Smoking causes damage to the artery walls, by making fatty material stick to them. It's never too late to get some benefits from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time. For more information on how to quit smoking contact the American Lung Association or your doctor.
Sleep – Research has shown that sleep deprivation can lead to adverse effects on one’s heart health. High blood pressure is a top risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When you get a good night’s sleep, your blood pressure drops by around 10-20%. Having a consistent sleep schedule, avoidance of artificial light near bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and not eating or drinking close to bedtime can help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
All these tips not only have with keeping your heart healthy, but also help in lowering your risk for other chronic diseases, managing stress, and body confidence.
About Andrea Teeters
Andrea is currently the Fitness Director at Westminster Woods at Huntingdon. Previously, she was the Fitness Director at the Presbyterian Village of Hollidaysburg. She loves teaching group exercise classes with the residents and coming up with creative ways to engage residents in Fitness. Andrea has been in the Wellness field for almost two decades. She loves doing outdoor activities with her family, reading, running, traveling, and being with her church family. Andrea lives in Huntingdon, PA with her husband Mark, 3 children: Zoey, Liam, and Milo. She also has a cat named Leonardo DeCatrio, and beagle named Olaf.