June 8, 2018

Heart Health for Seniors in 2018 and Beyond



Maintaining heart health is a goal for all ages, but seniors should be particularly aware of how they are treating their heart. For both men and women in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death. One study showed that in 2005, 82 percent of the deaths of US citizens over the age of 65 were caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD). To make the most out of their golden years, it’s important for seniors to maintain cardiovascular health.

 

You may think that having a healthy heart means running for miles a day or eating only vegan foods. Luckily, heart health awareness doesn’t require extreme measures. February is National Heart Health Month, so why not start with a new diet and adding cardio to your routine? These simple changes can help you stay healthy as you age. But how much cardio for heart health is required? And what exactly should you be eating – or not eating? To answer these questions, it’s important to first understand how our hearts stay healthy.

Heart Disease in the Elderly

 

As we age, the risk of developing heart disease has a tendency to increase. The American Heart Association shows that 34.6 percent of men 65 to 74 years old and 20 percent of women 65 to 74 years old have some form of CVD.

 

These numbers only increase as we age, shown by the 74.4 percent of men aged 85 to 94 and 65.2 percent of women of the same age with CVD. Compare that to nearly ten percent of men and less than five percent of women between the ages of 45 and 54 who have CVD. Seniors need to take heart health seriously.

 

Heart disease can result in many different health problems, including angina pectoris, heart attack, and stroke. To avoid these issues – and potentially avoid a trip to the hospital – seniors should take simple steps to maintain their health and add years to their life. Take the time during National Heart Health Month to learn how you can improve heart health.

 

Senior Heart Health: What You Need to Know

 

In the case of heart disease, the best offense is a good defense. To prolong life, enjoy retirement, and spend their golden years with family and friends, seniors can make simple changes to their lifestyle to ensure heart health. But it’s important to remember that the older we get, the more important it is to talk to your doctor about heart health awareness.

 

Early signs that a senior might be at risk for heart disease can be spotted easily be a health care professional. Signs include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. A doctor may recommend medicine or other treatment for these symptoms. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

Additionally, your doctor will likely recommend small lifestyle changes that will improve health and potentially aid the effectiveness of any medications. Want to get a head start? We’ve gathered a few tips seniors can use to keep their heart healthy.

 

4 Heart Health Tips for Seniors

 

    1. 1. Start by writing down any health goals you have. Treat National Heart Health Month like another opportunity for a New Year’s resolution! Each step towards your long-term goal can be as small or as large as you want. It’s important to make each step achievable so you can feel the momentum of your progress.

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    1. 2. Change your diet. Bad eating habits can be hard to break, but a proper diet is an important aspect of heart health care for seniors. Good nutrition habits for elderly people includes cutting down the amount of salt you eat, which can lower blood pressure. If diabetes is a concern, limit sugar intake. Always remember to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

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    1. 3. Cut back on alcohol. A drink every now and then can be fun, but too much drinking puts you at risk. Excessive drinking can raise your blood pressure, a condition that puts people at risk for coronary problems. Limit yourself to one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man to reduce the risk of heart disease.

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    1. 4. Maintain your weight. When you are overweight, your heart has to work overtime to stay healthy as you age. Keeping your weight low prevents your heart from working too hard and developing high blood pressure.

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A healthy diet is a great way to start losing weight. You can also start incorporating exercise into your daily routine, which is an important way to keep heart healthy as you get older. Exercising does not have to mean lifting heavy weights or running a marathon! Older adults typically need around 2.5 hours of exercise per week. The exercise you choose should be consistent. We’ve listed a few work outs that seniors can easily incorporate into their daily lives.

 

3 Heart Healthy Exercises for Seniors

 

    1. 1. Walking. Perhaps the simplest of all exercises, walking is an easy and relaxing way to add physical activity to your life. It’s a low-impact, cardio workout that gets your muscles moving and your heart rate up. Walking for 30 minutes a day every Monday through Friday will easily meet the CDC’s recommended 2.5 hours per week. Grab a friend, and start walking!

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    1. 2. Swimming or water aerobics. Exercising in the pool is another effective, low-impact exercise that aids in heart health care for seniors. Working out in the pool is especially effective for older adults who experience muscle and joint pain. Water-based exercises can also be done for longer periods of time, since it does not put pressure on muscles and joints.

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    1. 3. Stretching. No matter what other activities you do, it’s important to stretch to stay healthy as you age. For some people, stretching for 15 to 30 minutes per day may be enough movement without any additional exercises. If doing this on your own doesn’t sound appealing, look for a gentle yoga or Pilates in your area that is tailored to seniors.

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Interested in starting an exercise routine, but aren’t sure where to start? Many communities have public and private senior centers that offer classes, clubs, and activities for aging adults. These classes could include dance, swimming, or even tai chi! Find your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) online, or contact the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to find a chapter near you.

 

No matter where you start in your heart healthy journey, know that the first step is the most important one. Set your goals and stick to them. Creating healthy habits – even late in life – can ensure many happy years to come.

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