The month of February is synonymous with the heart. While Valentine’s Day is more widely recognized, February is also American Heart Month! A heart-healthy lifestyle should be the goal at any age, but seniors need to focus on their heart health because the risks of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and heart failure grow with age. People 65 years and older are at an increased risk of heart disease due to changes in the cardiovascular system caused by aging and years of buildup in the arteries.
In recognition of American Heart Month, Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma will look at strategies for improving heart health. Even if you or a loved one is currently living with heart disease, there are many things you can do to live a long and healthy life.
How Heart Disease Affects Seniors
In the United States, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death. Because of the frequent demands placed on your heart, this hardworking muscle may become overworked. When you are active, your heart can no longer beat as quickly as it used to. The buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries may pose a challenge to your heart, causing it to have difficulties getting adequate blood to and from your heart.
Heart disease can affect anyone, but seniors may be at a higher risk. Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poor diet
- Inactive lifestyle
Steps Towards Preventing Heart Disease
As you age, factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase your risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease. If a senior loved one lives at home, a Home Care Assistance in-home caregiver can assist with daily routines and meal prep to ensure they receive the necessary level of care.
There are plenty of ways to keep your heart in shape, even as you grow older. Although statistics suggest that the risk of heart disease increases with age, you may help protect a senior loved one by introducing them to healthy lifestyle practices and heart-healthy eating habits.
Heart-Healthy Habits for Seniors
It is possible to reduce the risk for heart disease by making specific lifestyle changes and managing medical conditions sooner rather than later. Making heart-healthy decisions in your daily life is the first step toward preventing heart disease. Here are some tips for making minor changes that will have a considerable impact on your heart:
- Stay Active – Regular physical activity can help you lose shed bodyweight, improve physical well-being, and lower your risk for many conditions, including heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Consider going for a walk, dancing, or even gardening—anything that gets you up and moving rather than sitting.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet – Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables while cutting back on saturated fats, salt, and cholesterol-filled foods like fatty meats. Instead of red and processed meats, consider a heart-healthy diet that incorporates fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish and seafood.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent heart disease. Excess weight can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Being physically active and eating a heart-healthy diet can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Get better sleep – Getting a good night’s sleep of seven to nine hours is essential for seniors. Sleep is good for the brain, metabolism, immune system, and emotional well-being. Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke over time.
- Reduce stress – Many heart disease risks that seniors currently experience, such as high blood pressure, can be amplified by stress. Take the time to develop healthy outlets for stress relief and to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma in-home caregivers can help your loved one manage these lifestyle changes and meet their day-to-day needs. With increased awareness and lifestyle changes, your senior loved one will be on track to living a happier, heart-healthy lifestyle!