Working towards a healthy heart is something you can start at any age. However, older adults are wise to be especially proactive. While a heart attack, and other heart issues, can happen no matter how old (or young) you are, the Mayo Clinic reports that men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are most likely to have a heart attack. The good news is that there are some very simple and quick things you can do for a healthier heart according to The Mayo Clinic and other experts.
1. Know Your Family History
The non-profit organization Heart Healthy Women states that heart issues including heart attacks are more likely to happen in people with a family history of heart problems. If one of your parents had a heart attack, you’re more likely to suffer the same consequences. Knowing your history and informing your doctor can help prevent problems before they occur or catch them earlier.
2. Stop Smoking
Smoking exacerbates a lot of things, including heart issues. Smoking harms the walls of your arteries, generally slowing blood flow and letting things like cholesterol build up easier. Second hand smoke is also damaging, so don’t assume you’re safe just because your spouse smokes and you don’t.
3. Reduce Your Weight
If you’re overweight, carrying around that spare tire is making your heart work harder than necessary. Obesity leads to high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels which make up the recipe for a heart attack. The silver lining is that losing just 10 percent of excess weight can drastically lower heart attack risks.
4. Start Working Out
Whether you’re overweight or not, working out on a regular basis is a must for a healthy heart. When you’re inactive, cholesterol levels can skyrocket and your heart simply isn’t getting the “cardio” (from Greek kardia – heart) workout it requires to stay in top shape. Remember you’re working out your inner muscles like your heart, too, not just chiseling those biceps that show during swimsuit season.
5. Reduce Stress
This is easier said than done, but stress has a number of harmful effects on your body, including your heart. People respond differently to stress, and some respond ultimately by having a heart attack. Try to minimize stressful situations in your life (e.g. in your job or family) and/or learn to not let stress consume your life. Choose an activity or method of stress reduction that works for you whether it’s yoga, volunteering once a week, or simply carving out 10 minutes per day to close your eyes and listen to music.
6. Manage Your Existing Diseases
A number of diseases such as diabetes can increase your risk of a heart attack including diabetes and high cholesterol. When you manage your diseases, you automatically lower your risk of additional diseases in the heart or a heart attack. Consider complementing your regimen with naturopathic remedies, but always check with your physician before trying something new or working with a naturopathic professional in addition to a conventional MD.
7. Consider Supplements
There are numerous natural supplements that may help improve your heart health. However, always check with your doctor before taking any new supplement, even if it’s natural and over the counter. They may interfere with current medications. According to Livestrong, some supplements you might try to include in your diet are hawthorn berries and garlic.
8. Be Heart Smart
The best tool in your arsenal for having a healthy heart is knowledge. You gain heart knowledge by getting regular checkups and keeping up to date with research from reputable sources. In short, you can help keep your heart healthy by:
- Fostering a relationship with a doctor you trust—pharmacy programs and pharmacy technician schools can create great, helpful pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, but only a doctor can help you put together the best plan of action
- Doing your own research—as long as the sources are qualified
- Improving your diet
- Getting at least 150 minutes of cardio per week and train muscles two days per week, as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Knowing your family history
- Stopping bad habits like smoking, drinking to excess and illegal drug use or prescription drug abuse
- Reducing stress and possibly adding supplements to your diet
There’s no way to guarantee you won’t have a heart attack, but there are certainly ways to lower your risk. The CDC reports that 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US every year and it’s the leading cause of death for men and women. However, with some preventative measures, you might be able to prevent being another statistic.