Improving and Maintaining Heart Health This February (And All Year)

February 1, 2023 | Senior Health

When we focus on wellness, we tend to prioritize our mental health and physical wellbeing, but it’s also important to prioritize our heart health. Various factors contribute to staving away heart disease, including diet and exercise.

Astral at Franklin understands that a healthy heart is vital to leading a purposeful, active lifestyle. Since February is American Heart Month, our senior living team in Franklin, Indiana, is sharing information to help you improve and maintain your heart health this month and all year!

Understanding How the Heart Works

Think about how a car works. The engine keeps the car running, and our heart does the same for our body by ensuring blood stays pumping. 

The heart has two sides, each with a top chamber, the atrium, and a bottom chamber, the ventricle. The right side pumps blood to the lungs to promote oxygen flow, and the left side receives the oxygen-rich blood and distributes it to arteries throughout the body.

How Does the Heart Change with Age?

Studies have shown that once people reach their 60s, women are 10% more likely to develop heart disease, and men are 20% more likely. This is due to the hardening of the arteries, known as arteriosclerosis, which causes the heart to stiffen with age.

In addition, “age-related changes in the electrical system [of the heart] can lead to arrhythmias—a rapid, slowed, or irregular heartbeat—and/or the need for a pacemaker (National Institute on Aging).”

Beyond these age-related changes, additional factors can adversely impact heart health, including:

  • Thyroid Disease
  • Chemotherapy
  • Family History

Luckily, you can prevent many common risk factors associated with heart disease, such as smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and excess weight. By implementing healthy modifications into your daily routine, you can begin improving and maintaining your heart health.

Be Mindful of What You Eat

While there’s no magic diet that can fully prevent heart disease, there are habits that can help you live healthier and improve overall heart health. Sticking to a balanced diet is one of the best and easiest ways to prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Implement fiber-rich foods, vegetables and whole grains into your everyday meals. Be sure to add good fats found in avocados, olive oil and fish, and steer clear of any saturated fats to keep your heart healthy and happy.

Sodium limitation is another key to a healthy heart. As we age, we become more susceptible to sodium, which can cause swelling in our legs and feet, among other health issues. People 51 and older should limit their salt intake to 2,300 mg per day – that’s the equivalent of about one teaspoon of salt. 

Keep in mind that most of our sodium intake comes from processed foods. By sticking to a balanced diet full of fresh produce and other foods you can prepare yourself, you can easily limit your sodium intake.

Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Aerobic exercise is one of the greatest medicines for your body, including your heart. Not only does physical activity keep our blood pumping, but it also impacts heart health by trimming excess fat. This alleviates any difficulties our hearts might face when getting blood circulating throughout the rest of the body.  

Experts say that adults over the age of 65 need about 150 minutes of exercise per week. You can easily break this down to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If 150 minutes a week is too much, start with smaller increments and work your way up.

Astral at Franklin encourages older adults to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Our senior living community in Franklin, Indiana, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents by offering exceptional fitness opportunities and enrichment programs, so that everyone can easily live with purpose. If you’re ready to learn more about our community, call us at 463-200-7990 or contact us online to connect with one of our senior living experts.

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Get an inside look at the vibrant lifestyle that’s waiting for you or someone you love at Astral at Franklin today, and get in touch with one of our senior living experts by calling 463-200-7990 or filling out the form below.

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