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Tips for Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease
An Extraordinary Organ
Long ago, Egyptians believed that the heart was the body’s control center. From their perspective, the organ acted as a centralized point of distribution for the body’s nutrients, while also serving as the source for emotion and cognition. Although they didn’t fully understand the heart (or the brain), it’s easy to see why the Egyptians were so infatuated with it. After all, it is an extraordinary organ, designed solely to provide adequate oxygen and blood to ensure homeostasis.
A Serious Disease
As amazing as the heart may be, it is certainly not invulnerable, especially as we begin to age. In fact, heart disease – or cardiovascular disease – is continuously listed as the number-one cause of death in the United States. For aging adults, the risk of developing heart disease is much more severe due to a number of age-related factors, including atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of the arteries from plaque buildup). Other risk factors include gender, race, ethnicity, and family history – all of which are entirely out of one’s control.
Heart Disease Risk Reduction
Fortunately, there are ways for older adults to reduce their overall risk of heart disease. Encourage your loved ones to follow the steps below:
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercise benefits the body in a number of ways, but in relation to the heart, it stimulates the production of new blood vessels, ultimately allowing for great circulation and lowered blood pressure. Before beginning any exercise regimen, consult a physician. He or she will help you determine the most appropriate level of physical activity.
- Configure your diet to be heart-healthy: It’s often noted that 70% of heart disease can be prevented through proper nutrition. The key is to consume foods rich in antioxidants, fiber (to aid in removing cholesterol), monosaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. Below are a few of the foods that will get you what you need. Similar to exercise, be sure to consult a physician before changing your diet:
- Get your blood pressure under control. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the biggest contributing factors to heart disease. Have your blood pressure checked often, preferably by a medical professional, but especially if you already have high blood pressure.
- Watch your weight. If you are already considered overweight or obese, make lifestyle adjustments – such as getting adequate exercise and eating a healthy diet – to lose weight (with physician approval). Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t have a wholly direct effect on the heart, but it helps reduce the risk of other heart disease-related factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Don’t smoke, or make plans to stop. Smoking has a tremendously negative effect on your cardiovascular system, as well as just about every other part of your body. It’s never too late to quit. In fact, your body actually begins to recover from the effects of smoking in just a matter of days.
Perception vs. Reality
Knowing the ways in which to reduce the risk of heart disease is half the battle. But it’s equally important to truly understand the reality of the disease and to discard the numerous misconceptions surrounding it. For instance, did you know that chest pains don’t always accompany a heart attack? In fact, a majority of women who have heart attacks experience only flu-like symptoms, with no chest pains to speak of.
The American Heart Association has put together a comprehensive list of the top 10 common myths of heart disease, This list serves as a valuable resource to understand the reality of this dangerous disease. False assumptions and myths are a detriment to proper heart health, so encourage your aging loved one to educate him or herself as much as possible. Knowing the correct information can make a significant difference in life expectancy.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
The compassionate caregivers of Comfort Keepers® can help your aging loved one reduce his or her risk of heart disease. We can promote a heart-healthy lifestyle, ensuring that he or she follows a physician-prescribed diet and exercise regimen. Our caregivers can also prepare healthy meals, and even provide transportation to and from the gym or to any scheduled medical appointments. Put simply, your loved one doesn’t have to be alone as he or she moves toward a happier, healthier lifestyle. We’ll be there every step of the way. For more information about how Comfort Keepers can help your aging loved one, please contact your local office.
Everyday Health. “Heart-Healthy Habits for Seniors” by Diana Rodriguez. Web. 2018.
MedlinePlus. “How to Prevent Heart Disease.” Web. 2018.
WellCast. “10 Interesting Facts About Heart Disease.” Web. 2018.
American Heart Association. “Top 10 Myths about Cardiovascular Disease.” Web. 2018.