As we get older, our body goes through a number of changes, which can unfortunately lead to heart disease. According to the WHO, heart disease is the leading cause of death. In 2015, 31% of all global deaths were linked to heart disease, totalling in around 17.7 million deceased.
Heart disease can be caused by cholesterol build-up blocking the arteries, or degeneration of the arteries among other ailments. Whatever the cause, heart disease can be prevented by making changes to your lifestyle, such as keeping your body healthy with exercise and paying attention to the way you eat.
As we age, our level of activity is generally reduced, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. However, maintaining a healthy body is the key to a healthy heart and certain exercises are particularly beneficial, as they combine physical activity with stress reduction.
While running is certainly an effective form of exercise, many older adults can struggle with it. The good news is that it’s not actually necessary to run as walking can have the same benefits! Research has shown that a brisk walk can be just as effective as a run, lowering your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Shape Up Your Diet
It is important to consume foods which fight inflammation, as an increased level of inflammation can lead to the development of heart problems. In fact, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as vegetables, berries and nuts, can prevent heart disease.
However, it’s also very important to avoid certain types of food in order to keep your heart in good shape. Recent studies at Harvard University have shown that the risk of heart disease increases with consumption of saturated fat. Foods such as red meat and dairy products in general (butter, cheese, milk, etc.) contain high amounts of saturated fat. Therefore, it is best to reduce their consumption or avoid them altogether.
Furthermore, reducing foods rich in saturated fats will also help you lose weight, reducing the risk of heart disease even further. In fact, studies have shown that being overweight can significantly increase your risk of heart disease.
Screenings for Heart Disease
We generally avoid seeing our doctors until it’s really necessary, maybe because we’re scared or perhaps simply too busy. However, making time to schedule check-ups and learn about our cardiovascular health is very important. We need to know about any possible risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or hypertension; all of these increase the risk of heart disease, and knowing about them can help us take control of our health in a more effective way.
Furthermore, your medical insurance may cover screenings and treatments. Also, if your citizenship and economic status make you eligible to apply for Medicaid or Medicare, your check-ups and screening for a heart condition might be covered by these healthcare programs.
Heart disease is a dire problem, but with regular screenings, as well as a healthy lifestyle it can be improved or even avoided completely. So, to ensure a great-quality life, say goodbye to a routine that may cause your heart problems in the long run.
By Sally Phillips
Photo by Margouillat