February is American Heart Month! Now is a great time for everyone—especially seniors—to evaluate their cardiovascular health. People who are aged 65 and over have a greater risk for suffering from heart-related issues, including stroke, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.
While it is true that heart disease is one of the greatest health threats in the U.S., it’s also one of the most preventable through healthy lifestyle choices. Here are a few easy and impactful changes seniors can make in February—and all year long—to improve heart health.
Enjoy regular physical activity.
Reducing the amount of time you spend sitting and incorporating regular activity into your day is key to decreasing your risk for heart disease. Ideally, seniors should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, such as a brisk walk, a bike ride, or gardening to get the blood flowing and heart pumping. Low-impact activities, such as yoga, stretching, and water aerobics are great options for seniors with mobility issues or joint pain.
At Vista Grande Villa, we offer a variety of physical activities for our residents, including group fitness classes and guided cardio and strength training, making it easy to incorporate some form of movement into your day!
Commit to a heart-healthy diet.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is an important way to take control of your heart health. Focus on nutrient-dense foods like whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to limit your intake of processed foods, saturated fats, and sodium as these types of foods can raise the cholesterol levels in your body and lead to an increased risk for heart disease. When you pay attention to your diet, you can also help maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight makes it more difficult to stay physically active and puts additional pressure on the heart.
Chef-prepared meals at Vista Grande Villa takes the stress and work out of preparing heart healthy dishes. Enjoy the benefits of restaurant-style dining and flavorful, nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Chronic stress can produce inflammation in the body, which in turn can increase the risk for high blood pressure. Even more, when you’re under a lot of stress, you are less likely to make smart food choices, exercise or maintain a healthy body weight—all of which can put your heart health at risk. To get your stress under control, talk to your doctor, try meditation or yoga, explore hobbies, enjoy in social activities, or join support groups to reduce the impact of stressful events in life.
Nix unhealthy habits.
Even if you’ve been a smoker for your whole life, you can still reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer by giving up the habit for good. Similarly, limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you consume every week, as alcohol consumption can result in elevated heart rate and blood pressure. These lifestyle changes can go a long way to improve your overall health and reduce your risk for heart related illnesses.
Know the symptoms.
Finally, it is important for seniors to understand the warning signs of a heart attack, because when one occurs, immediate emergency care is necessary. The longer a person goes without treatment, the more damage the heart incurs.
The American Heart Association identifies the following warning signs of a heart attack:
- Chest discomfort that feels like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath that can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Experiencing cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness.
Maintaining Heart Health at Vista Grande Villa
Take time during heart health month to show yourself some love by learning new ways to keep your heart healthy and strong. At Vista Grande Villa, we take our residents’ health and well-being very seriously. Having a healthy heart is built into our community’s entire way of life through healthy dining options, diverse fitness programs, and a staff that supports seniors in staying active and fulfilled.
To learn more about community life at Vista Grande Villa, schedule a visit for an in-person tour today!