We all want to live healthy lives and enjoy our retirement years, but a sudden diagnosis of a serious disease can derail those plans. You might be surprised to learn that 82.6 million Americans currently have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, many of them in the senior population. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.
Protecting your heart is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure a longer and more satisfying life, and luckily it isn’t too difficult to implement these heart-healthy changes to your lifestyle.
Maintain a healthy diet. Adopt a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Minimize the intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium, added sugars, and processed foods. A heart-healthy diet can help control cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Engage in regular physical activity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Additionally, incorporate muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, manage weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol intake. Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease, so quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke are crucial steps in preventing heart-related issues. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart problems. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men).
Manage stress. Chronic stress can negatively impact heart health by raising blood pressure and contributing to unhealthy behaviors. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies that bring joy and relaxation.
Regular health check-ups. Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels (if applicable), and overall cardiovascular health. Detecting and addressing any risk factors or early signs of heart disease early on can significantly improve outcomes.
Remember, small lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting overall well-being. If you have specific health concerns or risk factors, consult with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized plan to prevent heart disease.