Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Despite this statistic, there are plenty of things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to help reduce your risk of heart disease.
7 Heart-Healthy Tips for Seniors
- Eat colorful fruits and veggies.1 — You've heard it all before: You need to eat lots of fruits and veggies. But did you know you should get a lot of color in your diet with these fruits and veggies? Not only are fruits and vegetables low in calories and high in vitamins, but the colorful array of choices means you're getting specific nutrients with each color designed to help you stay healthy in many ways.
- Eat nuts and cold-water fish for Omega-3 fatty acids — Walnuts, salmon, trout, flaxseeds and anchovies are some of the foods that contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Why is that a good thing? Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to protect against heart disease (and they have other potential health benefits as well) by helping to raise your HDL cholesterol, otherwise known as the "good" cholesterol. And this good cholesterol helps to move through your body to remove some of the LDL or "bad," artery-clogging cholesterol.
- Cut out fried foods and limit animal products to lower cholesterol. — Fried foods and baked goods like pizza dough and pastries are full of trans fat, or partially hydrogenated oils. Animal products, butter and full-fat dairy products contain saturated fats. Choose skinless cuts of lean meat (like tenderloin or sirloin) when eating meat for the healthier option. Both saturated and trans fats increase your blood cholesterol level, which in turn can lead to clogged arteries—meaning blood flow carrying oxygen to your heart can be difficult and can to heart disease—so limit these whenever possible.
The American Heart Association recommends that your saturated fat intake be no more than 5 to 6 percent of your total calories (which, for a person eating around 2,000 calories per day, means approximately 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat.
- Cut sodium intake by limiting packaged foods. — Read the labels on any boxed, canned, processed and packaged foods (and dressings) you buy — chances are the sodium level is very high, because sodium is used to preserve such foods so they last longer. Generally, foods that list sodium amounts as 140 mg or lower are considered low sodium.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults ages 51 and older should have a daily sodium intake of 1,500 mg or less, but the American Heart Association states that the average American gets more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day — more than twice the recommended limit! Be careful when eating out, as well, because food from restaurants and fast-food places often has high amounts of sodium.
Why limit sodium? Because too much causes your body to retain water, making your heart work harder — which can lead to high blood pressure, making you more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
- Exercise. — It's about getting your blood moving, so even if you have limited mobility because of health conditions such as arthritis, COPD, loss of balance—or if you are using a wheelchair or mobility device to walk around—you can still exercise safely. It doesn't have to necessarily be running and doing jumping jacks, so don't worry. The most important thing is that you move your muscles and make your heart start pumping!
- Minimize stress. — Simple right? Sure. We all have stress in our lives, some more than others, but it's important to your heart health that you find a good way to minimize and manage that stress. Journaling, yoga (if possible), meditating, mindful breathing, talking to a friend, watching a movie, reading a book, and other hobbies are great ways to work at lowering your stress levels.
Excessive stress can contribute to high blood pressure, and high stress can mean being lax on following some of the heart-healthy tips such as limiting fried foods and exercising—because when we're stressed, we're not always thinking about yet another thing we have to do.
- Get regular checkups. — At least annually, go in to your regular physician for a checkup — but more often if you have heart issues or other risk factors. Have you cholesterol and blood pressure checked, and be sure to talk to your doctor if you're finding your stress levels are through the roof (and yes, it's perfectly good and necessary to talk to your doctor about your stress since it can affect your health in many ways).
Hoveround Helps Keep You Heart-Healthy
When mobility becomes an issue, a Hoveround Power Wheelchair or Mobility Scooter can help you retain your independence AND relieve any undue stress on your heart. Call our Mobility Specialists today at (800) 542-7236 to get started on the path to regaining your mobility.
1Remember to always consult your doctor before making any dietary or exercise changes.