Take Care of Your Heart this Heart Health Month

keep your heart healthy this heart health month

Alice knows that February is Heart Health Month. What better time than now for her to make sure that she is taking the right steps to protect her heart, and her partner’s? They are both turning 65 this year and Ann has a history of heart disease in her family. Alice will make an appointment for each of them with their doctor and find out more about their risks, and how to mitigate them.

Raising Awareness about Heart Disease

A study in 2013 revealed that in the 60-79 year old age group, over 70 percent had Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). In the 80+ year old age group, 83 percent of men and 87 percent of women had CVD. Additionally, about 66 percent of CVD deaths occur in people age 75 and older. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women over 65 years of age.

While these are frightening statistics, there are steps one can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

According to a study from the Boston University School of Medicine, “A growing body of evidence from clinical trials indicates that risk factor modification in older adults reduces Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) risk as effectively as it does in middle-aged adults.”

The first step to reducing your risk is to know your risk factors.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Risks factors for heart disease increase with age as blood pressure and cholesterol numbers rise, muscle mass declines and one becomes more sedentary. A woman’s risk for heart attack rises post menopause. A family history of high cholesterol or heart disease can also increase risk.  

Once you are more aware of your individual risk for heart disease, it’s important to make some changes to your lifestyle to protect your heart. These heart healthy tips include:

Know your numbers

The American Heart Association recommends that “knowing your numbers” is a first great step toward reducing your risk of heart disease and heart attack. The recommended numbers are;

  • Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
  • HDL (good) cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides 150 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Body Mass Index less than 25 kg/m2
  • Waist circumference less than 35 in

Exercise and Stay Active

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise a day is great for general physical health and wellness, balance, cognitive health, mood and sleep. It is also helpful in reducing LDL, triglycerides, blood pressure and weight. A few ways to stay active include: 

  • Walk
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Weight training
  • Exercise classes

Exercise is a fun way to socialize with friends. Weight training is important to keeping muscle mass. If you are new to exercise, be sure to check with your doctor and get instruction from an exercise professional.

Eat Heart Healthy

Eat nutrient dense foods. Limit the use of added sugar and salt. Heart healthy foods include:

  • Eat lots of colorful fruits, vegetables and leafy greens.
    • Eat whole fruits for their fiber.
    • Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables have the same nutrients as fresh.
    • Read labels and purchase low sodium, no added sugar options.
  • Include fiber rich whole grains and legumes in your diet.
    • Beans, oats, flax, quinoa, brown rice
    • Limit consumption of white flour and white rice
  • Protein and dairy should be low fat.
    • Fish is rich in Omega 3 oils
    • Skinless poultry reduces saturated fat
    • Tofu is very high in protein
    • Do not eat red meat
  • Use only unsaturated, liquid fats, like olive, flax seed and avocado oils.
    • Replace butter in baking recipes with sugar free applesauce or oil.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, water, herbal teas.
    • Stay away from sugar substitutes, soda and diet soda, fruit juices.

Smoking and Alcohol

  • Do not smoke. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about finding a cessation method that will be successful for you.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

Red wine is thought to reduce cholesterol. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease.”  

Heart Attack Symptoms          

It’s also important that you’re able to recognize common heart attack symptoms so treatment can begin immediately. The symptoms of heart attack are varied and can be significantly different for men and women. Symptoms include:

  • Recurrent chest pain that may feel like indigestion and goes away with rest.
  • Abnormal retention of fluids
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, breathing difficulty
  • Tingling or numbing of the left arm or hand
  • Nausea
  • Women may also have back pain or jaw pain

If you or someone you are with is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, take action.

  • Call 911.
  • Chew and swallow an aspirin (unless allergic).
  • Take nitroglycerin if it’s been prescribed.

Green Hill is committed to providing an active, healthy retirement lifestyle for residents. It’s our goal to invigorate minds, bodies and spirits through a variety of services and amenities, like planned social activities, regular cultural outings, fitness options and delicious, healthy meals. To learn more about our vibrant retirement community in West Orange, New Jersey, please contact us today.

This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.