Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people in the United States. The good news? It is also one of the most preventable. Each year, we use the month of February to discuss why heart health is so important and what we can do to have a healthy heart.

Heart health is especially important for adults age 65 and older. Our risk of  suffering a heart attack, having a stroke, or developing heart disease increases as we age. As you get older, your heart can’t beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when you were younger. The most common age related change in heart health is caused by hardening of the arties which in turn causes high blood pressure, or hypertension. There are a number of changes in your body that causes strain on your heart. Some of these changes can be out of your control due to family history, but leading a heart-healthy lifestyle might help you avoid serious illness.

What can you do to live a heart-healthy life?

There are many steps you can take to keep your heart healthy.

Make Physical Activity a Part of Your Routine

There are many benefits to being active. Moving more can help protect your heart, improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and give you more more stamina and ability to cope with stress.

As little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking briskly helps your heart. For major health benefits, aim for at least 150 minutes a week. Talk to your doctor about what activities might be best for you.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is what you do to stay healthy. It’s also what you do to care for any health problem you have, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or mental health disorders. It’s heart-healthy living.

The trick to making self-care for your heart easier is to plan ahead. Build heart-healthy activities into your daily self-care routine. Schedule things that are both good for you and important to you. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Quit Smoking

Smokers are up to 4x more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, compared to nonsmokers. The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways. Quitting is hard, but many people have succeeded. Set a quit date and let those close to you know about it. Your family and friends can support your effort.

Visit betobaccofree.hhs.gov and smokefree.gov for free resources to help you connect with others trying to quit.

Heart Health Month Information

LifeStream will be sharing heart-healthy tips and information throughout the month of February in observation of Heart Health Month. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram. See below other heart healthy tips and information:

 

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