Preventing Heart Disease as You Age

heart, heart beat, and stethoscope

By Patricia LaCroix, Contributing Writer

The aging process brings about many physical changes in a person’s body. Blood pressure might start to increase. Cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels might go up. So might one’s weight and the ability to keep extra weight off.

And these same physical changes can also bring about a higher risk for heart disease.

The good news? There are several things you can do to prevent heart disease as you age. Here are some ways you can keep your heart healthier and avoid some of the complications that arise with heart disease.

Eat healthy

The old saying “you are what you eat” applies well to your physical health as you age. Healthy food can translate into having a healthy heart as well. If you’ve been eating unhealthy food most of your life, there’s no time like the present to introduce the good habit of eating better.

Good food and beverage choices

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Water
  • Decaf coffee or tea
  • Whole grains, like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread.

Foods and beverages you should avoid

  • Foods and beverages high in salt (sodium)
  • Foods and beverages high in sugar
  • Foods and beverages high in fat, especially saturated fat
  • Alcohol

Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity is a risk factor of heart disease. Extra weight adds extra stress on the heart and blood vessels.

So if you want to prevent heart disease, it only makes sense to keep your weight healthy as well. Visit your doctor to determine what weight would be healthiest for you and how best to reach that number. Of course, eating the healthy foods listed above can be a great start to a good diet that might promote weight loss as well.

Be physically active

Exercising regularly and getting fit can help strengthen your cardiovascular system. Along with a healthy diet, it can likewise help with maintaining a proper weight. Exercise also helps in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that most adults do at least two and half hours of moderate exercise weekly. But it’s best to talk to your doctor first before starting any exercise program, to know what would be best for you.

Stop smoking

Smoking hurts a physical body in a number of negative ways. It has the potential to harm every organ in your body, and this, of course, includes the heart. Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.

Unfortunately, smoking is also extremely addictive and can be a tough habit to break. However, there are ways to quit successfully, and your body will thank you for doing so. Again, see your doctor. He or she will be able to suggest ways you can stop smoking for good.

Manage your current health conditions

If you already have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, managing these conditions well is important to further prevent adding heart disease to the mix. Be sure to do the following:

  • Check your cholesterol regularly.
  • Check your blood sugar regularly and manage your diabetes.
  • Check and manage your blood pressure.
  • Take all medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Visit your doctor regularly.

Just because you are older doesn’t mean that heart problems are inevitable. By taking these simple steps you can help prevent heart disease, in order to live a better, healthier life.

Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDC.gov.

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