food for heart healthAs we age, our risk for certain illnesses and health conditions like heart disease or failure increases. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death for adults over age 65.

When you get older, your heart struggles to beat as fast, making it even more crucial to take care of this vital organ. For seniors, their families and caregivers, here’s what you should know about heart disease and tips to prevent this deadly condition.

Causes of Heart Disease

Proper blood circulation is key to keeping your body healthy and functioning. Generally, heart disease is caused by a buildup of plaque that thickens the artery walls and blood vessels. This can prevent oxygen and crucial nutrients from being delivered to the heart, potentially leading to failure.

This medical emergency occurs when your heart cannot adequately pump the blood your body needs. Heart failure can also be the result of plaque buildup in the arteries and can eventually become fatal.

Who’s at Risk for Heart Disease?

As you get older, your blood vessels also age, making it harder for blood to flow through as easily. The risk of heart disease increases for women over 55 and men over 45. You may also be at elevated risk if you have a family history of heart disease.

There are a few factors you can control to help lower your risk for heart disease. Smoking or an excessive intake of alcohol can cause damage to your heart and lungs, making you more susceptible to the condition.

Diet can also play a factor – consuming foods high in fat, salt or sugar can raise your blood pressure and ultimately thicken the artery walls.

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Some common symptoms of heart disease to be aware of include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness or coldness in arms or legs
  • Neck pain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Heart Disease Prevention

While heart disease is not 100 percent preventable, it’s possible to lower your risk. Start simple with a few healthy lifestyle changes.

Daily exercise can strengthen your heart and improve blood flow. Being active for 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference! Low-impact activities ideal for seniors include:

  • Walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

Changing your diet can also have a big impact. Incorporate healthier foods in your meals such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats to help prevent plaque build-up in your arteries.

There are also certain medications that can help lower your risk of heart disease. Discuss available options with your doctor to see if there is a right choice for you.
For more information on senior health and disease prevention, contact Avon Health Center.