Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Rachael Birchall, Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Oswestry.
February is National Heart Month and the most important thing you can do to help and prevent heart disease is to keep your heart healthy! In this month’s edition of Senior Snippets, I would like to share a few tips, with help from the British Heart Foundation, for keeping a healthy heart.
Watch your diet. A healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and can also help increase the chances of survival after a heart attack. Try to eat a balanced diet every day, incorporating foods from each food group. Fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such wholegrain pasta, bread and rice, dairy products, healthy fats, as well as protein such as meat, fish, eggs, and beans are all important staples of a healthy diet. Foods and drinks high in sugar should be consumed at a minimal level.
Get active. The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to keep fit so that it can pump blood efficiently around your body with each heartbeat. Keeping fit not only benefits your physical health - it improves your mental health and wellbeing too. A minimum of 10 minutes a day could really help maintain a healthy heart.
Manage your weight. The number of people who are overweight in Britain keeps rising. Carrying a lot of extra weight as fat can greatly affect your health and increases the risk of life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat well and remain physically active.
Quit smoking. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked.Even if you have smoked for a long time, it’s never too late to quit, and your health will improve as will your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and a variety of cancers.
Get regular health screenings. The key to having a healthy heart is managing your risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood glucose. But how do you know which risk factors you have? The best way to find out is through screening tests during regular doctor visits.
Check your family history. If a close relative is at risk of developing coronary heart disease from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, obesity and diabetes, then you could be at risk too.
Make sure you can recognise the early signs of coronary heart disease. Tightness or discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or stomach which comes on when you exert yourself but goes away with rest may be the first sign of angina, which can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
We hope these heart healthy tips have given you some simple ideas as to how to stay healthy without drastically changing your life. Just a few adjustments in your diet and physical activity could make a big difference in your overall health.