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Heart Health Awareness: Staying Healthy During American Heart Month

It’s no coincidence that Valentine’s Day and Heart Health share the month of February. It’s all about love.

But while Valentine’s Day celebrates your love for others, Heart Health Month reminds seniors to focus some of that love and attention on yourself and to act on all those heart health tips you’ve been hearing. Your life may actually depend on it.

Heart disease statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are staggering.

  • It is the leading cause of death for men and women in the US.
  • An American dies of cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds. Yes, that’s correct. 33 seconds.
  • Every year some 800,000 people have a heart attack. About 600,000 of those are first timers. Approximately 200,000 are repeat cardiac events.
  • Around 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent which means the damage occurs but the patient is not aware of it at the time.  

The most common cause of heart attacks is coronary artery disease which interferes with blood flow to the heart. It’s vital to be proactive with thorough and regular checkups. It is equally important to take any of the following symptoms seriously: 

  • Chest pressure, tightness, and heaviness.
  • Extreme fatigue – especially in women.
  • Fainting and lightheadedness.
  • Nausea
  • Pain in shoulders, neck, jaw or arms.
  • Shortness of breath – with or without chest pain.
  • Unusual sweating

Some heart attack symptoms can mimic heartburn. If your pain seems like heartburn but feels different than normal, cancel your dinner plans and head to the ER. Better to be safe than sorry.

Mitigate Your Risk

The threat of heart related issues is real. But the good news is, there are healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce – sometimes dramatically – your risk of becoming a statistic. Even the smallest changes can positively impact your overall heart health. It’s all about taking the first step.

Get Moving

As luck would have it, that first step toward a healthier you is - literally - taking a first step. Exercise will help not only improve but also maintain heart health. If it’s been a while since you’ve been off the couch, check in with your doctor to accurately assess your fitness level. Getting in shape is a long-term commitment, but it is among the best heart healthy habits for seniors. It doesn’t matter how you start. It matters that you stay with it and work your way up to a regular fitness program. Even 10 minutes of walking a day can make a difference.

You Are What You Eat

A heart healthy diet for seniors will include choices that are low in calories but high in nutrients and fiber. Healthy eating for heart health will mean avoiding high fat dairy or meats and reading labels to be aware of amounts of salt and trans fats.  Happy hour with your friends? Sure. But take care to keep alcohol intake to a minimum.

Stop Smoking! No ifs ands… or Butts!

Quitting smoking even later in life can improve your odds against heart attack or stroke. If you are a long- time smoker, there are programs designed to help you face this challenge.

Sleep: The Great Energizer

According to the American Heart Association, seniors who experience chronic sleep issues eat poorly and lose the desire to exercise thereby negatively impacting their heart health.

Stay Social

Socialization is critical to senior heart health. Studies show older adults with active social lives are less likely to experience loneliness and isolation and the stress that can trigger heart issues.

Specifically designed to enhance your total wellbeing, Overture’s premier active adult communities are exactly what the cardiologist ordered. From fitness classes, to walking clubs to heart healthy cooking classes, Overture offers an unlimited menu of activities and social opportunities to uplift body, mind and spirit. Book a tour today and get ready to embrace a lifestyle that will warm your heart – and keep it healthy.