Heart disease is the most common medical condition found in Americans aged 65+. As the number one cause of death in the US, heart disease sends millions of seniors to hospital emergency departments every year. If there’s a special senior in your life, finding ways to lower their risk of heart disease should be a priority. What follows are some “heart-healthy” tips that can help ensure that your loved one enjoys their retirement years. 

Fast Facts About Heart Disease

The risk of heart disease rises at age 45 for men, and 55 for women. Older adults are more likely to develop heart disease if they have pre-existing medical conditions that aren’t being managed well- including Type 2 diabetes, chronic high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

There are many different types of heart disease, including:

  • Heart valve disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Pericarditis

Obesity, family history, age, inactivity, smoking, not eating a healthy diet, clinical depression and diabetes are all risk factors for heart disease.

Heart-Healthy Tips for Aging Adults 

Helping your aging loved one maintain a higher quality of life is possible. Encourage them to take these heart-healthy steps:

Balanced diet

Adopting a heart-healthy diet doesn’t always mean eliminating all your senior’s favorite foods. The key is moderation, along with avoiding foods high in processed sugar, trans fats and salt. A well-balanced diet for an older adult should include fresh fruits and veggies, fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and other healthy sources of protein. Also, make sure they’re drinking plenty of water.

Regular Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is another major risk factor for heart disease. You can easily lower their risk by having them exercise for at least 20 minutes several times a week. Great low impact exercises for seniors include gardening, Wii gaming, walking, water aerobics, swimming or cycling. In addition to improving heart health, an active lifestyle helps reduce stress, improve balance and coordination, promote a better night’s sleep, and strengthen immunity.

Stop smoking

As a bad habit that many seniors adopt early in life, the correlation between cigarette smoking and heart disease is well documented. As plaque builds up in the coronary arteries smoking causes that plaque to harden, leading to a condition known as ischemic heart