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Show Your Heart Some Love: Tips for Maintaining Heart Health in Your Golden Years

10 Feb 2010

Nearly 60 million Americans live with heart disease in one form or another. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women; in fact, women are more likely to die from heart disease than men. Older individuals with heart disease have the highest risk of poor outcomes. Seniors should show their heart some serious love this Valentine’s Day by keeping it healthy.

“As we age our heart becomes less efficient, working harder to pump the same amount of blood through our bodies,” said Ian Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.C., chief of cardiology and director of the catheterization lab at Weiss Memorial Hospital. “Blood vessels also lose elasticity over time and fatty deposits can form along the inner walls of arteries, all of which can result in high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Seniors can keep their hearts healthy well into their golden years by following these healthful hints from the experts at Weiss Memorial Hospital:

  • Quit Smoking — Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary artery disease than non-smokers, and have about a 70 percent higher death rate from the disease. It may not be easy to kick the habit, but vastly improved health is well worth the effort. Talk to your nurse or physician to develop a plan to help you quit and get the support you need from such groups as Nicotine Anonymous to kick the habit for good.
  • Eat Healthfully — To combat cardiovascular disease, eat foods that are rich in nutrients and low in fat and sodium. Be sure to eat at least 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber each day from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Remember, you don’t have to sacrifice taste to maintain a healthy diet. Meet with a dietitian and check out heart-friendly recipes from the American Heart Association such as chicken rotini salad with rosemary.
  • Stay Active — Physical activity can be one of the best and most enjoyable ways to promote heart health. Seniors should try to get a total of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise weekly. Walking, bike riding or joining an aerobics class at a local gym or senior center can get you on your way. Such low-impact exercises as Tai Chi can also benefit your heart.
  • Follow Doctor’s Orders — Physicians want to keep their patients in optimal health. If your doctor prescribes medications to lower blood pressure or reduce cholesterol, it is important that you take them. If you’re concerned about side effects, talk to your doctor immediately so some adjustments can me made. And remember to always consult with your physician when contemplating a new diet or exercise regimen.



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