Community Blog

Changes to Make This Heart Healthy Month

By Michelle Brown

February is a month for celebrating not just love but also the heart. It is declared the American Heart Month, and it is the perfect time to implement actions for a healthy heart. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for males and females. Many of the major risk factors for heart disease are preventable, and it is never too late to implement some heart healthy changes for yourself and your loved ones.

 

Knowing the Risks and Signs  

 There are several key risk factors that increase your chance of having some type of cardiovascular problem. The three main ones are smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Some others include: 

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Diabetes

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Excess weight

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Excess alcohol consumption 

If you have any of these risk factors, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. Implementing lifestyle changes might mitigate many of these risks.

 

Diet

 One of the major places where you have the power to reverse some of the risk factors is in your diet. There is no one perfect food to eat or diet to follow that leads to a healthy heart. However, there are some common ingredients in a heart-healthy diet: 

  • Low sodium

  • Lots of fruits and vegetables

  • Limited red meat

  • Lean protein, especially fish

  • Good fat -- olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts, omega 3 fatty acids

  • Limit saturated fat and avoid trans fat

  • Whole grains

  • Little to no added sugar

  • Fiber-rich foods

  • Avoid processed foods 

You might hear a lot about two main diets for heart health: the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. Both of these have been found to benefit a healthy heart and include many of these key factors.

 

Exercise 

The other major component of a heart healthy lifestyle is to exercise. This does not mean you have to hit the gym every day. Any movement is beneficial. For a senior, this might include walking for about thirty minutes. Strength training also provides numerous benefits beyond just being good for the heart, including strengthening bones, keeping muscles active and maintaining lean body mass.

 

Social Life 

Another important component of heart health, especially as you age, is to have an active social life. The risk of death is much higher in those who are isolated than those with an active social life. If you are a caregiver, make sure that your loved one has a chance to interact and socialize with their friends and family members.

 

With in-home care, you or your loved one has someone to assist in eating a healthy diet, exercising and socializing, three important components of a healthy life. Talk to your Home Helpers caregiver today to discuss implementing changes for a healthy heart.