Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. What makes this especially tragic is the fact that this condition is often caused by behavioral and/or lifestyle choices. This means that heart disease is often preventable. There are so many habits that can lessen (and behaviors that can exacerbate) heart-disease risk, it’s easy to slip up and miss some key facts. That’s why we’ve compiled the following list into two blogs’ worth of helpful information to keep your heart healthy:
Get plenty of sleep.
Good sleep habits are essential to good health. Because sleep affects so many facets of our lives, it’s difficult to understate its potential importance. Consider this: adequate sleep gives you more energy, which makes you more willing to engage in physical activity, which can benefit your heart and overall health in countless ways. Healthy sleep habits can help lower stress levels and make you feel good all-around, but they may also have direct positive impact on cardiovascular health. Getting at least seven hours of sleep per night can reduce calcium buildup in your arteries, an early sign of heart disease. Furthermore, a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology indicates that a lack of sleep can make people up to twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Avoid trans fats.
Trans fat has been shown again and again to contribute to heart disease, and it’s in many food products. “Fat” has a negative connotation in general, but certain kinds of fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, and unsaturated) are fundamental to a balanced, healthful diet. Those fats are fine in reasonable amounts, but no good can come from consuming trans fats. Always look for 0% trans fat on the nutrition facts of anything you eat, and stay away from anything with “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list.
Check your blood pressure regularly.
Well-regulated blood pressure can allow blood to move to and from your heart more smoothly. When it’s too high, the heart must work extra hard, causing it to wear out faster than it would in a healthy person. Doctors recommend that anyone over 40 have their blood pressure checked by a medical professional at least once a year. Between doctor visits, when checking it on your own, make sure your blood pressure is between 90/60 (“90 over 60,” meaning 90 systolic and 60 diastolic) and 120/80.
Get up and active.
Regular exercise is vital to keeping your heart strong and your blood pressure within the normal range. A good place to start might be taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day, then working your way up from there. Make your routine include aerobic exercise (raising your heart rate or “cardio” daily), strength training, and stretching for well-rounded health benefits. If you have preexisting health problems, especially cardiovascular issues, make sure to clear any exercise you plan to do with your physician beforehand. Furthermore, mounting evidence suggests a correlation between cardiovascular events and sitting for long periods of time.
Be sure to come back soon to see part two of our series on heart health. If you’re interested in learning more about independent living, assisted living, or memory care in one of our communities, contact Village Park Senior Living to schedule a tour. Our courteous staff will go over our options and help you determine which one might be right for you. For more special interest stories and informative articles about topics for seniors and our community, you can also check out our weekly blog or follow us on Facebook and Google+ to get the latest news and updates.