7 Ways Seniors Can Decrease the Risk of Heart Disease as They Age

Heart-healthy foods

It is critically important for all seniors to know that the physical changes that occur with age can increase your risk of heart disease. Why is it so important? Because heart disease is the top killer of older Americans today. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells us that aging can cause changes in your heart and blood vessels, including the buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries over many years. As you get older, your heart can't beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when you were younger. 

As a result, senior adults age 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke or to develop coronary heart disease and heart failure. Heart disease is also a major cause of disability, limiting activity and eroding quality of life of millions of older adults.

“Therefore, it is critical to recognize the dangers of heart disease and to begin taking steps today to reduce your risk,” says Sara J. Thompson, NHA, Administrator at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA. “The good news is that there are several steps you can take to lower or possibly avoid or reverse your risk.”

7 Ways Seniors Can Lower Their Risk of Heart Disease

The Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and the NIH say there are many positive steps seniors can take to keep their hearts healthy. For example:

  1. Be physically active– Regular physical activity can lower seniors’ risk of heart disease. Senior adults should aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of activity daily. Physical activity helps you control your weight and reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
  2. Don't smoke – One of the best things seniors can do for their hearts is to stop smoking. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen in your blood, which increases your blood pressure and heart rate because your heart has to work harder to supply enough oxygen to your body and brain.

The good news is it’s never too late to stop. And your risk of heart disease starts to drop the day you quit.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet – A balanced, heart-healthy diet is also crucial for seniors. A heart-healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, low-fat or fat free dairy foods and whole grains. Two excellent examples of heart-healthy food plans include the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension(DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean diet

4. Maintain a healthy weight– Seniors can also reduce their risk of heart disease by controlling their weight. Being overweight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of developing heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. To help you maintain a healthy weight:

  • Limit portion size to control calorie intake.
  • Be as physically active as you can be.
  • Talk to your doctor about your weight and seek his or her advice to determine your proper weight and how to maintain it.

5. Get regular screenings Routine screenings and examinations can help to identify heart problems in seniors before they result in a heart attack or stroke. Screenings for high blood pressure and high cholesterol are especially important as both can damage your heart and blood vessels.

6. Get sufficient sleep – Heart health experts say that seniorswho don't get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression. Therefore, make sleep a personal priority. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. For the best sleeping conditions, keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet when you go to bed. 

7. Manage your stress – Many seniors deal with significant levels of stress in their lives. When not managed effectively, stress can lead to high blood pressure, emotional issues and heart problems. The key to reducing your stress is to find relaxation techniques that work for you. Stress reduction experts suggest trying physical activities such as walking, yoga and Tai chi, as well as meditation and relaxation exercises.

Sara adds, “By following these expert stress reduction tips, senior adults can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease and increase their likelihood of a longer, healthier life! 

“In addition to promoting health and wellness with our Saunders House residents and through our public education activities, we also provide excellent short-term rehabilitation services for those who have suffered heart attacks and strokes or who need post-surgical recovery. We help you to go from the hospital to home and health.”

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “7 Ways Seniors Can Decrease the Risk of Heart Disease as They Age,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing carerestorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our short-term rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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