The evidence is clear—your chances of developing heart disease increase as you age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people aged 65 years and older have a 17% chance of having coronary heart disease. Compare this to only 7.1% of people between 45 and 64 years old. 

Since heart health and aging tend to go together, you’re likely wondering what you can do to protect your heart. We’ve rounded up ten excellent steps to heart health protection that you can start implementing today to improve your heart’s health.

1: Watch What You Eat

It may not sound like fun, but eating healthy has a significant impact on your heart’s health. You should stay away from unhealthy fats (such as saturated and trans-fat) and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.

Whole grains are also excellent for your heart, so toss any white bread and bleached flour lying around your kitchen into the trash. Eat fat-free or low-fat dairy products in moderation and get your protein from seafood, nuts, and beans instead of red meat.

2: Be Active

Your golden years aren’t the time to stop exercising, although you don’t have to run a marathon to reap heart-healthy benefits. The Mayo Clinic recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day. If staying on your feet that long is challenging, move around in short increments throughout the day instead. Three bursts of ten-minute exercise routines at a time are a good place to start!  

Walking is an excellent activity for getting in exercise since it’s an aerobic activity that will help strengthen your heart. If your abilities allow, try walking at a brisk pace or jogging to flex your heart muscles even more. 

3: Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Even if you don’t currently struggle with high blood pressure, it’s still important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis. That way, you can catch a problem in its early stages should it arise. 

High blood pressure can cause health issues such as stroke and other non-heart conditions that would impact your eyes, brain, and kidneys. The good news is that you don’t have to visit a doctor to know your blood pressure—you can purchase a small digital blood pressure machine to use in your home. 

4: Monitor Your Weight

When considering heart health and aging, you have a higher chance of getting heart disease if you’re overweight. Being obese is especially bad for your heart because it spikes the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in your body. 

Lowering your weight will help reduce your blood pressure and prevent diabetes. Diabetes can have devastating impacts on the heart, and controlling it is one of the top seven factors that can prevent heart disease

5: Lower Your Alcohol Consumption

If you consume alcohol regularly, consider cutting back to improve your heart health. While Johns Hopkins Medicine states that drinking one 4-ounce glass of wine or one 12-ounce can of beer per day isn’t likely to do you harm, excessive drinking will. 

The reason that drinking excessively is harmful to your heart is that it raises blood pressure, increasing the chances of heart failure or stroke. It can even cause cardiomyopathy, a condition that affects the heart’s muscle.

6: Stop Smoking 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and cigarette smoking plays a considerable role. When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and delivers it to your heart. When you smoke, your body sends the smoke’s chemicals directly to your heart.

The chemicals in cigarettes wreak havoc on the blood vessels, which impact the coronary system. Some of the most common heart-related diseases due to smoking include hypertension, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks. 

7: Manage Sleep Apnea

If you snore a little, rest easy—it’s not going to send you into cardiac arrest. However, sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing while sleeping for a period, can negatively impact your heart.

If you have sleep apnea, your doctor can give you a mask to wear at night that will help you breathe. You can also try shedding some pounds if you’re overweight, as that will sometimes eliminate sleep apnea.

8: Reduce Stress and Be Positive

When it comes to heart health and aging, reducing your stress levels is critical. According to Harvard Health, people with positive attitudes and less stress in their life are less likely to die from heart disease. In fact, laughing can even have a positive impact on your heart, as well as your emotional state.

Health experts recommend incorporating meditation and exercise into your daily routine to help you lower your stress levels. By doing so, you’ll help reduce inflammation in your arteries and increase your HDL cholesterol levels, which is the kind of cholesterol you want to maintain.

9: Don’t Ignore Health Symptoms

If you’re feeling unwell beyond the common cold, call up your doctor and explain your symptoms. By responding to your symptoms right away instead of putting them off, hoping they’ll improve with time, you can dramatically improve your chances of reducing the severity of a possible heart condition.

Heart-related symptoms to look out for include:

  1. Chest pain
  2. Swelling in your legs
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Heart palpitations
  5. Dizziness

Since you should already be exercising regularly, keep an eye out for changes in your exercise tolerance (which can be a sign of a heart issue).

10: Get Basic Life Support (BLS) Certified

Getting a BLS certification is an excellent option if you’re concerned about the heart health of those around you and want to learn other essential life-saving skills. While this is a common course for entry-level healthcare professionals, the information you’ll learn will be helpful for various scenarios. 

By taking a BLS course, you’ll learn how to administer CPR, how to use an automated external defibrillator, and how to respond to a person who is choking. 

Ready to Give Your Heart a Boost?

With a bit of practice, it’s easy to implement changes in your life that will improve your heart’s health as you age. Time doesn’t wait, so neither should you. Get started today to start enjoying the benefits of a healthier lifestyle for your heart. 

 

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