Dear Donna,

World Heart Day is coming up, and it has me thinking about my health. Both of my parents have had a heart attack, and I am afraid I will have one, too.

What can I do to lower my risk of a heart attack?

Talia from Holland, MI

Improving Your Heart Health through Lifestyle Changes

Dear Talia,

It’s great you are being proactive about protecting your heart. Cardiovascular disease is the number one health condition in older adults and the world’s leading cause of death for men and women. Cardiovascular disease, also referred to as heart disease, is an umbrella term for the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels that can lead to a variety of complications, including a heart attack.

Although some factors that increase your risk of a heart attack are uncontrollable, including age and genetics, there are many elements you can control. Here are a few lifestyle changes that can help keep your heart healthy.

Tips for Reducing Your Risk of a Heart Attack

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet: A heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways you can protect your heart. When planning your meals, try to limit trans and saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. Instead, opt for foods with healthy fats, like salmon and almonds. Also eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly: Research has consistently shown exercise can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which increase the risk of heart disease. Seniors can reap the benefit by exercising for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Learn healthy ways to manage stress: Stress is a normal part of life. But because it raises your blood pressure and heart rate, chronic stress can negatively impact your heart health. Seniors can benefit from learning how to cope with stress healthily. Many people find success with relaxing activities like meditation or talking to friends and family.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for the heart to function efficiently. Not getting enough sleep is linked to cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Seniors should do their best to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can have many adverse side effects. It can raise the levels of unhealthy fats in the blood, increase blood pressure, and may even result in heart failure or a stroke. While avoiding alcohol is best for most people, some seniors can get away with reducing their intake. As a general rule, women should limit themselves to one drink per day, while men shouldn’t consume more than two.

Adopting a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

When it comes to reducing your risk for a heart attack, adopting a healthy lifestyle can make a world of difference. While genetics affect your risk, they make up only a fraction of the equation. By focusing on factors you can control, like your lifestyle, you can give yourself a better chance at protecting your heart.

I hope you can incorporate some of these lifestyle tips into your daily routine!



Heritage Senior Communities Encourages a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

At Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, we encourage our residents to live a healthy lifestyle. We offer heart-healthy meal choices and plenty of opportunities to exercise. Contact us today to learn more about our communities.