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How to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease for Seniors

Senior woman talking to her doctor about heart disease

Everyone has goals and dreams they’d like to pursue. But we can all get in ruts that make it easier to put off our plan for the future until “someday.” February is American Heart Month, and if taking better care of yourself is a goal you’ve struggled with accomplishing, consider moving to an active senior living community like Atlantic Shores. Our continuing care retirement community lifestyle can provide you with the support and resources to live your best life. 

Did you know heart disease is one of the biggest threats to senior health, but the right lifestyle habits and a heart-healthy diet can help lower the risk? If you’re unsure of what are heart healthy tips for seniors, this blog post can help.

What is heart disease

Heart disease is the term given to a group of different health conditions that affect the heart. The most common form of heart disease in the United States is called coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is often responsible for serious cardiovascular events like a heart attack, heart failure, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat (also called arrhythmia).

Symptoms of heart disease may include:

  • Feeling faint
  • Weakness or a sensation of lightheadedness
  • Having a hard time catching your breath
  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting
  • Feeling very full or having indigestion
  • Pain in the chest or an uncomfortable pressure in the chest
  • Unusual pains in the back, shoulders or neck
  • Sweating
  • An irregular heartbeat

14 Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease

Know your risk: Your risk of heart disease depends on many factors like physical activity, diet, age, gender, and family history of heart disease. Your risk could be higher if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, are overweight or obese, have prediabetes or diabetes, or smoke. To help determine your risk, talk to your doctor. They can also help you set and reach heart-healthy goals. 

Track your numbers: Get regular checkups to monitor health conditions that affect your heart, including high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar

Eat for heart health: Eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Make sure you select whole grains like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice. 

Avoid processed foods: Packaged foods tend to be low in nutrients and high in calories, saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars. Excess calories can lead to weight gain, unhealthy fats can raise bad cholesterol, and sodium can increase blood pressure. 

Eat lean: Lean sources of protein include eggs, beans, seafood, and skinless cuts of poultry. You should also try to eat fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon, herring, tuna and trout — at least twice a week.  

Be fat smart: Saturated fats are found in animal sources, including fatty cuts of meat and whole-milk dairy products. They’re also in certain tropical oils, like coconut oil. Trans fats are found in processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, such as some baked goods and fried foods. Replace these unhealthy fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are in many nuts and seeds, canola and olive oils, fatty fish, and avocado. Healthier fats may even lower bad cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease.

Cut the salt: Adults should have no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Limiting your sodium intake even further to 1,500 mg a day, may reduce blood pressure more. To control your salt intake, avoid processed foods, use less salt to flavor home cooked foods, and don’t dine out as often.

Lose the booze: Alcohol can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and alcoholic beverages add unnecessary calories. If you choose to drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Women should have no more than one drink a day. Men shouldn’t have more than two drinks each day.

Go with H2O: Due in part to a decreased sense of thirst, older adults can be at risk for dehydration. So be sure to drink plenty of water. Staying well hydrated may help keep your heart from working too hard. To make sure you’re getting enough fluids, pay attention to the color of your urine. If it’s clear or pale, you’re likely hydrated. If it’s darker, you should drink more liquids.

Stop smoking: Smoking can raise your risk of heart disease and heart attack and worsen already existing heart disease risk factors. Quitting — even later in life — can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer over time. 

Get moving: Regular physical activity — brisk walking, dancing or gardening — can help you lose excess body weight, improve physical fitness and well-being, and lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Scale down: 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. A healthy body weight for most adults is a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. Talk to your doctor about how to maintain a healthy weight.

Reduce stress: 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. Try to find healthy outlets to relieve stress.

Get your zzz’s: Over time, not getting enough sleep can raise your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. To improve your sleep habits, avoid nicotine and caffeine, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark. 

Your Heart Will Love Atlantic Shores

At Atlantic Shores, we take senior health seriously. Our lifestyle offers award-winning dining options that are delicious and nutritious, a wide range of services and amenities, and an on-site wellness center to help you track your health and wellness goals. You’ll also find a supportive community of active adults who share your enthusiasm for life. To learn more, contact us here.