It can be easy to feel upset when you notice signs of aging on your physical appearance, such as wrinkles and brown or liver spots on your face. But while it’s only natural to feel somewhat down because of these changes, keep in mind that it’s also perfectly natural for these physical changes to take place. When you reach an advanced age, it’s important to own and be happy with these changes. It is also crucial to pay closer attention and take better care of your health and well-being — specifically, your aging heart.
Aging and Cardiovascular Health
According to the American Health Association, 70.2% of men between the ages of 60 and 79 have cardiovascular disease. The percentage is higher for men 80 years of age and older, with the number pegged at 83%.
On the other end of the spectrum, 70.9% of women between 60 and 79 suffer from different forms of cardiovascular disease. This percentage increases as well for those 80 years old and above, with the number estimated at 87.1%.
These numbers show that as you age, you will be more prone to developing cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. But it doesn’t mean that you should simply accept this fact. Even if you’ve reached your senior years, you can still have a healthy heart.
Tips to Ensure a Healthy Heart
- Be more physically active
Working out regularly is a good start to loving and caring for your aging heart. This is because as you get older, your body’s ability to effectively pump oxygen to your heart declines. Exercising frequently will correct this issue.
But before you start hitting the gym or taking on a new sport, consult your physician first. You have to be sure your heart and body can take on the fitness routine you want to start.
Also, keep in mind that being physically active doesn’t mean just lifting weights or running. There are other fun and usually healthier ways for older people to work out such as taking walks in the park, swimming and even gardening.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet
If pizza, fried chicken, French fries, chocolates, and ice cream are still part of your daily diet, you need to rethink your eating habits. These unhealthy foods increase your risk for various types of cardiovascular diseases.
To have a healthy heart at your age, you have to:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Choose whole grains over processed bread and other foods
- Consume more lean meat
- Cut down on fatty foods
Before going on a diet or changing your eating habits, it would be best to consult your doctor as well. You still need to have a well-balanced diet to suit your particular condition and your medical practitioner or nutritionist can help ensure you have this.
- Quit your bad habits
Smoking is the leading cause of atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque or fatty deposits can build up in the arteries. These fatty deposits restrict blood flow to the heart and other organs which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
You can start protecting your heart by quitting smoking if you have this bad habit. There are methods for quitting which you can read online. Your doctor can also help come up with a good plan.
Regular and heavy drinking also has negative effects on your heart. Consuming too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and cause you to gain weight. These are factors that can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.
If possible, quit drinking immediately or, at the very least, limit your intake and drink only occasionally.
- Get more sleep
As you get older, you will find yourself having problems falling asleep. However, you need to find ways to improve and maintain good sleeping habits. This is because having irregular sleep patterns has been associated with different cardiovascular risks including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
To get seven to eight hours of sleep (which is just the right amount) every night, you have to:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule of going to bed and waking up daily
- Reduce your caffeine intake and stop consuming it before two in the afternoon
- Take a nap if you feel tired. However, just limit it 20 minutes at a time
- Work out early or in the middle of the day in the fresh air to improve nighttime sleep
- Bask in happy emotions
Chronic stress, fear, anxiety and depression are bad for the heart and can compound your risk for cardiovascular diseases. To keep your heart healthy, focus on avoiding stress and being happier. Laugh when you see something funny on TV. You will also start laughing more if you spend time with people who also laugh a lot and have a good sense of humor.
Spending time with your family, friends, and other people you like will also do wonders for your ageing heart. Schedule regular dinners with them. You can also arrange to meet them at a restaurant or café or even watch a movie with them. The important thing is to always find time to be around people that you like.
With an improved diet, lifestyle and the companionship and support of your family and friends, you can still have a healthy heart even in your golden years.
Ibrahim Khader founded Angels of Medical Care in 2010. The name “Angels” was chosen because of his belief that nurses are angels of healing and care with the blessings of the creator. The company has flourished and is now one of the best, most renowned home care companies in Dubai.