In the U.S., one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular (heart) disease. This equates to roughly 1 in every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
As you age, your risk of heart disease increases. This is why we wanted to provide some simple, yet important advice to help seniors quickly improve their heart health.
How to Improve Heart Health: 5 Powerful Ways
1. Heart Healthy Activities for Seniors
We know you’ve heard it over and over again—but there’s a reason. Exercise remains one of the best ways to maintain a healthy heart and to improve your heart health.
Before you begin a routine, you should first check with your doctor to ensure it is appropriate and safe for you to start.
We want you to realize that exercise doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon or even running around your neighborhood. There are useful exercises for those in their 60s, 70s and 80s that can go a long way toward helping you.
The most effective routines involve both activity and stretching.
These exercises include:
- Moderate aerobic exercise. This may include:
- Brisk walking
- Water aerobics–often these pools are warmed, and the water allows you to exercise your joints without risking a fall
- Resistance training exercises. Those who do these exercises not only increase their core muscle strength, but they improve their balance, making them less likely to fall. These exercises include:
- Push ups
- Arm reaches
Yoga can also be a very effective exercise if you are careful to adjust it to what you feel comfortable with. Again, your doctor is the best and most reliable source of information to help you with an exercise plan.
2. Stop Smoking
If you’ve never smoked a day in your life—or if you’ve quit—then good for you! You’ve taken a huge step toward helping your heart and your lungs.
If you’re still struggling to quit, don’t worry. There are lots of resources available to help you, including useful apps and support groups. We also offer a class to help you gain freedom from smoking.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
We’ll be honest: Most diets don’t work. The reason? Often, they concentrate on the latest “fad” or whatever is popular at the time.
The best way to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight is to have a solid nutritional plan in place.
At Conway Medical Center, we have a comprehensive outpatient nutrition services program to help those who not only want to lose weight, but who also want to live a healthier life.
We’re happy to help you by providing the tools and support you need from our registered dieticians. Want to get started? Just speak with your primary care provider and ask for a referral to our program. Your primary care doctor can fax his or her physician’s order to 843-234-5016.
4. Know (and Monitor) Your Numbers
Do you know what your cholesterol is? How about your blood pressure?
These are two of the factors that can greatly influence heart health. To ensure your cholesterol and blood pressure are at healthy levels, you should schedule regular appointments with your doctor who will provide healthy ways to lower them if they are too high. This may include a combination of diet, exercise and medication.
What Vitamins Are Good for Heart Health?
The answer to this may surprise you.
According to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins, clinical trials involving thousands of subjects found that there was no evidence of any benefits. During these trials, some subjects were given vitamins/supplements and others were given a placebo.
The trials showed that most supplements were unnecessary. Even worse, some doctors believe that certain supplements may do more harm than good.
However, there may be one exception—which leads us to our fifth way of improving heart health:
5. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 or Take Fish Oil Capsules
These are full of the “good” type of fatty acid that helps the heart. While many people can get enough in two servings of fatty fish a week, for those who don’t, Omega-3 tablets can help.
Examples of fatty fish include:
- Atlantic mackerel
- Canned light tuna (in water)
It’s important to try to avoid fish that have high levels of mercury, such as swordfish. Check with your doctor for more information.
How to Check Heart Health
First, the best way to check your heart health is to have regular appointments with your primary care physician or cardiologist. Communication and compassionate care are at the heart of who we are. We’ll help you address any health issues before they develop into something more serious.
Second, know and understand your risk of developing heart disease.
Heart disease does not always come with symptoms, and in certain cases, women have different heart attack symptoms than men. Because there may not be any symptoms before a heart attack, it helps to be proactive by evaluating your risk for heart disease.
What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
The risk factors for developing heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- A family history of heart disease
- Being overweight or obese
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Not eating a healthy diet
Your risk of heart disease also increases as you age.
Conway Medical Center Offers the Best Cardiac Care in the Myrtle Beach and Horry County Region
We are the region’s only Duke Affiliate in Heart.
What does that mean?
It means our experienced, board-certified cardiologists work closely with national experts at Duke Health to implement the latest evidence-based guidelines in heart care.
From our state-of-the-art technology to the expertise of our cardiologists, see why Conway Medical Center remains one of the leaders in health care.