Cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of death across the world, and on World Heart Day on September 29, many people around the world work to promote heart disease awareness, risks, prevention measures, and more. In honor of World Heart Day, here are tips for maintaining a healthy heart as you age:
- Start with your grocery list. Preventing heart disease starts with a healthy diet that limits saturated fats, salt, and foods containing high cholesterol. To ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet, revamp your grocery list to include more colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, high-fiber foods, and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Permanently cross off items like high fat dairy or meat and butter, and keep your alcohol intake low.
- Be active. Although the days of running an easy five miles may be over, you can still be active as you age by taking regular walks, biking, hiking, swimming, or attending aerobics classes. Check with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease; to that end, eating well and staying active are essential to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your risk for heart disease.
- Get regular check-ups. Go to the doctor regularly to monitor your health and anything that could affect your heart, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. If necessary, take medication to help control these issues.
- Get enough sleep. Research shows a correlation between sleep and increased risk of coronary heart disease, especially when people are sleeping less than five hours per night. Try to sleep between 7-8 hours per night; to ensure that you can fall asleep easily, limit caffeine intake and stop consumption by 2pm. You should also keep a regular sleep schedule, exercise in the morning or mid-day, and avoid electronics within an hour of bedtime.
- Minimize stress and keep your heart happy. Stress can exacerbate many heart disease risks. Find ways to relieve your stress, whether it’s going for a walk, socializing with family and friends, or attending church or volunteering regularly. In that same vein, research has shown that gratitude, laughter, and forging social connections can be healthy for your heart.
Heart disease may be widespread, but you can take measures to prevent heart disease in yourself and in your aging parents. By following these heart healthy guidelines, you and your parents can age comfortably at home for years to come.