Heart Health Tips for Seniors

by Bethany

It’s important for seniors to take a proactive approach towards heart health. As we age, our bodies go through a myriad of physiological changes. The walls of the heart will thicken and fill with blood more slowly; fat and fibrous tissue may form in the heart’s pathways; and arteries may become stiffer and less flexible. These changes can increase the risk of heart disease and other related problems.

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Exercise plays a key role in senior heart health. It promotes lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes. According to a study cited by the American Heart Association (AHA), however, more than 30 percent of seniors spend little-to-no time exercising.

To reduce the risk of heart disease, seniors should aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Whether it’s walking, swimming, cycling or playing tennis, aerobic exercise is essential for a healthy heart.

Eat Heart-Healthy Foods

The right foods can also lower the risk of heart disease in seniors. This includes cutting back on foods high in saturated or trans fat and eating more foods high in unsaturated fat.

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat are classified as the “good” type of fat. They promote a healthy heart by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol and raising levels of HDL cholesterol. And by helping to regulate cholesterol levels in the blood, unsaturated fats reduce the risk of heart disease. Trans fat, on the other hand, has the opposite effect: it raises HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol.

Sources of unsaturated fat include:

  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil oil
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Flax seed
  • Fish oil supplements

There’s strong evidence linking chronic stress to heart disease. When we feel stressed, our bodies respond by producing certain hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, elevated levels of cortisol can contribute to high blood pressure and subsequently heart disease.

Seniors should maintain a positive perspective while reducing stress in their life. Talking with friends or family is a simple way to lower stress. Alternatively, yoga or deep breathing exercises can also help seniors relax.

While serious, senior cardiac issues can often be prevented or managed by following these tips.