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How to Be Heart Healthy

February is American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day, get the association?

Heart health is an important issue that many of us aren’t exactly sure how to deal with. How exactly do we become heart healthy? That’s a question we’re going to dive into today.

What does “heart healthy” mean?

Heart healthy refers to living a lifestyle where your heart is being taken care of. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, a poor diet and lack of exercise are big factors in developing a heart-harming condition.

It’s best to start on your healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. This means monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and correcting course in your diet and exercise to combat high numbers.

What can affect heart health?

A poor heart is usually one that is plagued by atherosclerosis. This is when cholesterol rich pockets develop inside the arteries restricting blood flow. This is how heart attacks and strokes occur.

Cardiovascular disease is anything that affects the heart and blood vessels. This includes atherosclerosis and also heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.

The American Heart Association breaks the risk factors into three categories:

Major risk factors
Research has shown that these unchangeable factors significantly increase the risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.

Modifiable risk factors
Some major risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle change.

Contributing risk factors
These factors are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but their significance and prevalence haven’t yet been determined.

How do we become heart healthy?

The best way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to learn more about the risk factors and how you can slow down your risk.

8-ways-to-love-your-heart

Source: Health Grades

The American Heart Association has a special section just about managing cholesterol.

They also have a section on how to get your high blood pressure under control, with types like taking a brisk walk each day to lower your levels.

Some of the most important things you need to do involve changing your lifestyle:

  • Quit smoking: This can affect your cholesterol level and tobacco is not good for your heart.
  • Become more active: 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week is enough to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Heart healthy diet: Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, poultry, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy. Avoid sugary food and drinks, and red meat.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Take medications: If your doctor sees you at risk for high blood pressure, they’ll likely prescribe you medication.

Resources

The American Heart Association

Heart Health | Harvard Medical School

 


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Medical Advice from the ‘Net

If you’re looking for elderly-specific advice on some difficult medical issues, we’ve got you covered.  Check out these links for a lot of great information.

 

ALZHEIMER’S

CANCER

DENTAL

DIABETES

EXERCISE

HEART DISEASE

INSOMNIA

NUTRITION

OSTEOPOROSIS

STROKE

 


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General Health Tips for Seniors

If you’re over 65, staying healthy and in shape takes on a few extra dimensions.  It’s much harder, it takes much more work, and your body is much more finicky about what you can and can’t do than it was just a few years earlier.  It can be very hard to do it, but staying fit and healthy is essential for long and happy Golden Years!  Parent Giving shared a great list of tips that we would like to share with you to help you get started.  They may not all apply to you or your lifestyle, but whichever of them do are definitely to be kept in mind.  You can find the original here.

cardio-training-for-senior-women

  1. Quit smoking. Take this critical step to improve your health and combat aging. Smoking kills by causing cancer, strokes and heart failure. Smoking leads to erectile dysfunction in men due to atherosclerosis and to excessive wrinkling by attacking skin elasticity. Many resources are available to help you quit.
  2. Keep active. Do something to keep fit each day—something you enjoy that maintains strength, balance and flexibility and promotes cardiovascular health. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight, prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls and look and feel better, too.
  3. Eat well. Combined with physical activity, eating nutritious foods in the right amounts can help keep you healthy. Many illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis, can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help women prevent osteoporosis.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Use the Kaiser Permanente BMI (body mass index) calculator to find out what you should weigh for your height. Get to your healthy weight and stay there by eating right and keeping active. Replace sugary drinks with water—water is calorie free!
  5. Prevent falls. We become vulnerable to falls as we age. Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpet or throw rugs. Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. Did you know that people who walk barefoot fall more frequently? Wear shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
  6. Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health screenings. By age 50, women should begin mammography screening for breast cancer. Men can be checked for prostate cancer. Many preventive screenings are available. Those who are new to Medicare are entitled to a “Welcome to Medicare” visit and all Medicare members to an annual wellness visit. Use these visits to discuss which preventative screenings and vaccinations are due.
  7. Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it becomes drier and less elastic. Wrinkles appear, and cuts and bruises take longer to heal. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun and ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.
  8. Get regular dental, vision and hearing checkups. Your teeth and gums will last a lifetime if you care for them properly—that means daily brushing and flossing and getting regular dental checkups. By age 50, most people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in the ability to see small print or focus on close objects. Common eye problems that can impair vision include cataracts and glaucoma. Hearing loss occurs commonly with aging, often due to exposure to loud noise.
  9. Manage stress. Try exercise or relaxation techniques—perhaps meditation or yoga—as a means of coping. Make time for friends and social contacts and fun. Successful coping can affect our health and how we feel. Learn the role of positive thinking.
  10. Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy and aging, age is no reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if necessary.