How seniors can maintain a healthy heart

By September 7, 2012Healthy Aging

The heart is a vital muscle that keeps the body moving. As people age, the heart loses some of its strength, which can cause some serious problems for seniors. The good news is that most of these life-threatening cardiac problems can be prevented. Caregivers should see that seniors visit their doctor on a regular basis for a thorough check-up of the heart. How exactly can seniors and their caregivers ensure the heart stays healthy?

Diet

Keeping up with a healthy diet and daily exercise routing are generally the best ways to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system for seniors. Many elderly people have high cholesterol, which causes major damage to the heart. Keeping levels under 200mg.dl will prevent additional damage and stress on the heart itself. Seniors can keep cholesterol levels low by maintaining a healthy weight and eating foods that are low in fats. Seniors should also include a variety of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.

Exercise

An exercise routine suited for seniors should consist of 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular work at least three times each week. Many seniors choose to ignore the idea of exercise, thinking they are unable to perform heavy strength training. Caregivers must encourage seniors to perform light exercise, such as walking or swimming, in an effort to keep muscles flexible and bones healthy. Seniors and caregivers are advised to discuss an exercise plan with their doctor. There are also exercises seniors can perform that specifically strengthen the heart.

Manage Blood Pressure

Seniors must also keep a close watch on their blood pressure. Caregivers may check blood pressure levels in the home, or seniors may go to a nearby hospital for a blood pressure check-up. A normal blood pressure is generally considered to be 120/80mm Hg. Readings which are higher than this level are considered to be high. Seniors who have high blood pressure must take all medications as prescribed by their doctor and follow all lifestyle recommendations that help to keep blood pressure healthy. High blood pressures can lead to strokes or heart failure when left unmanaged.

Quit Smoking

One of the most important things seniors can do for healthy aging when it comes to heart health is to quit smoking. Tobacco has been linked to major heart disease along with blood vessel disease. Seniors may find it hard to stop smoking, especially if they have been doing it for many years. This is where caregivers and loved ones can step in to offer support. If an at-home senior caregiver is also a smoker, make a commitment to use the buddy system and quit together. Seniors should understand that their bodily systems have a much higher sensitivity to the damage of cigarettes and cigarette smoke. If seniors quit smoking today, the risk for contracting heart disease decreases by leaps and bounds.

 

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