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February is American Heart Month: How Seniors Can Lower Risk of Heart Disease

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on

There are many different factors that contribute to a person’s risk of developing heart disease, including genetics, age, and gender. Although risk factors like these cannot be changed, there are many lifestyle adjustments seniors can make to reduce their potential of developing heart disease. The Placer County senior care experts at Home Care Assistance recommend the following.

1. Eat a healthy diet.
A diet rich in lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lower the risk of heart disease tremendously. Limiting the amount of saturated fat and salt in one’s diet can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes, both of which contribute to heart disease. Your senior loved one can also take a fish oil supplement for an added boost of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Live an active lifestyle.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, up to 50% in fact. Maintaining a healthy weight is a crucial part of avoiding heart disease since obesity is major risk factor. If your senior loved one hasn’t exercised in a while, start slowly and try exercises like yoga or swimming that are easy on joints. You or your loved one’s Placer County caregiver can participate in the new exercise regimen to provide extra support and motivation.

3. Reduce stress.
Stress can cause high blood pressure, one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Meditation, daily exercise, and spending time with loved ones are excellent ways to reduce stress. Encourage your loved one to start with just 5 minutes of meditation a day, eventually working up to 20 minutes. Tai chi has also been proven to lower stress, among other benefits.

4. Avoid bad habits like smoking and drinking.
One-fifth of heart disease deaths are directly related to smoking, including second-hand smoke. Quitting significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, as well as other health problems like high blood pressure and COPD. Drinking alcohol in excess can cause high blood pressure and stroke. However, drinking one glass of wine each day can increase HDL levels, or good cholesterol, by up to 20%.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle is the best defense against future heart problems, and remember to always consult your loved one’s physician before taking new supplements or beginning an exercise program.

If your senior loved one needs help maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, or getting to and from doctor’s appointments, Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers are compassionate, available 24/7, and trained in our proprietary Balanced Care Method, which focuses on diet, physical activity, socialization, and maintaining purpose. To learn more, call (916) 226-3737. Our Care Managers are happy to answer your questions and schedule a free in-home consultation.

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