By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*
February is a time to celebrate Valentine’s Day, love and American Heart Month. However, focusing on your heart and providing it some TLC is something to do year-round.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure—is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. CVD is a leading cause of disability and heart disease is a major threat to senior health. The American Heart Association reports that approximately 83.6 million adults have at least one type of CVD. For those 60-79 years old, 70.2% of men and 70.9% of women have CVD.
While one in four deaths is due to heart disease, many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits and managing risk factors like:
- Physical activity
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
Steps toward a healthy heart are a journey that requires lifestyle changes, determination and patience. Things that can help include:
- Staying encouraged – every healthy choice makes a difference.
- Asking for help—get friends and family involved; heart health is for everyone.
- Rewarding yourself—decrease stress by discovering fun and new things to do.
Little changes add up; as Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Steps to Heart Disease Prevention
- Get a regular check up from a health care professional. Know your numbers!
High blood pressure often has no symptoms; so check it on a regular basis.
- Know your family history—if heart disease runs in your family, be proactive about heart health.
- Take your medicine.
- Eat a healthy diet, including: plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; nuts like walnuts and almonds; and, limit saturated fats and foods containing cholesterol.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly— Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- QUIT smoking.
- Limit alcohol use.
- Minimize stress in your life.
Find more Heart Health information at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/heart-health OR http://www.heart.org
*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.