Life’s Simple 7: Managing Your Cardiovascular Health

Annual Aging Well Section

 

As you age, the steps you need to take to maintain your health change as well. By being mindful of these shifts in your health and wellness, you can readily embrace your golden years. Here, we’ve gathered the facts and consulted the experts about a variety of topics that you might encounter as you or your loved ones age, with the hope of helping you stay informed and up-to-date about aging well.

 

By Anna Hill

 

As you age, being mindful of your cardiovascular health is more important than ever. By following the American Heart Association’s ‘Life’s Simple 7,’ you can improve your heart health and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. 

 

Aging and Heart Health

Maintaining your cardiovascular health is one of the most important factors for living a longer, healthier life. Adults over the age of 65 have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, or heart failure as a result of the accumulation of risk factors over the lifespan, genetics, and our environment. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of heart health issues. 

 

Life’s Simple 7

Life’s Simple 7, developed by the American Heart Association, identifies seven ways to reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart disease and achieve ideal cardiovascular health. These seven steps are: 

  1. Manage Blood Pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. Regularly monitor your blood pressure, and take steps to lower it if it starts reading outside of a healthy range. 
  2. Control Cholesterol. High cholesterol can lead to buildup in the arteries, which can cause heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. Your healthcare provider can create an individualized medication plan based on your risk factors. A heart-healthy lifestyle is the first step!
  3. Reduce Blood Sugar. Most of the foods that we consume are turned into glucose (blood sugar) that is used for energy in the body. High levels of blood sugar can eventually lead to damage in the heart, eyes, and kidneys, so keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level is vital. 
  4. Get Active. Daily exercise can increase the length as well as the quality of your life. Some activity is better than no activity, and starting slowly is perfectly fine. A goal of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic ac­tivity per week is recommended to maintain a healthier heart.
  5. Eat Better. A healthy diet is one of the most important factors when it comes to your heart health, as it’s linked to several of the other factors mentioned here. By watching calories, eating smaller portions, and regularly incorporating fresh produce, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet, you can reduce your risk of heart disease. 
  6. Lose Weight. By losing extra fat and shedding those unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart and the rest of your body to keep yourself healthy and moving. Aim for a healthy weight by staying active and making conscious healthy choices in your diet. 
  7. Stop Smoking. Smoking cigarettes greatly increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as well as other serious health issues such as lung cancer. If you’re a smoker, quitting is one of the best steps you can take to improve your health. HS

 

expert opinion on heart health

 

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