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How to Keep Your Heart Healthy as You Age

Credit: Jamie Street on Unsplash

Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 killer of adults in Western countries. It kills more people than all forms of cancer combined. Seniors are more likely than younger people to develop cardiovascular disease. In the United States, an estimated 85.6 million adults have one or more types of heart disease - and of these, 43.7 million are over the age of 60. These conditions are also a major cause of disability, limited activity, and poor quality of life.

It's important to be aware of the symptoms of heart disease:

  • Chest pain, especially during physical activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Palpitations – an irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate

Although heart disease can affect anyone, certain individuals may be more at risk than others. Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle

The good news is that it's possible to reduce the risk for heart disease by making certain lifestyle changes, and managing medical conditions sooner rather than later. You can keep your heart healthy no matter how old you are, by making changes in your everyday habits:

  • Get enough exercise. Physical activity is one of the best ways to improve heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
  • Quit smoking. If you're still smoking, it's time to quit. Smoking damages the artery walls, but quitting - even later in life - can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting saturated fats, salt, and processed foods. Try a Mediterranean diet which focuses on fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish and seafood instead of red meat.
  • Reduce alcohol intake. Excess alcohol consumption can worsen health conditions that contribute to heart disease, such as high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and high cholesterol levels.
  • Watch your weight. To help prevent heart disease, maintain a healthy body weight for your size.
  • Get better sleep. It's critical for seniors (and everyone) to have a good night's sleep. In addition to maintaining cardiovascular health, sleep is also beneficial for brain functionality, metabolism, immune functionality and emotional well-being.
  • Reduce stress factors. Stress can compound many heart disease risks that older adults already face, like high blood pressure. Higher stress levels can also trigger a heart attack. Take the time to find healthy outlets to relieve stress.

Dr Ronen Goldkorn is the Director of the Nuclear Cardiology Center, Leviev Heart Institute, Sheba Medical Center, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



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Tuesday, 05 March 2024

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