January 28th, 2020 | Senior Health
The heart is an incredible organ. From the time you’re born to the time you die, it never stops working, not even when you’re asleep. Once it starts beating it won’t stop until its work is done. The heart works by pumping blood throughout your entire body. Every hour it will transport around 260 liters of blood, about 6240 liters per day. Not only must your heart pump oxygenated blood away from itself, but it has to bring deoxygenated blood back again. This is an intense amount of work for something only roughly the size of your clenched fist, and so it makes sense that something working this hard will start to wear out as we get older.
How the Heart Ages
As you get older the chances of you developing heart disease increase. After the age of 65 the chances of having a stroke or heart attack are significantly higher. Because of this, it makes sense to take preventative measures well ahead of time and ensure that your heart remains healthy for as long as possible.
As you age, the cells and muscles within your heart begin to weaken. While this doesn’t alter the number of times your heart beats, the strength with which your heart pumps does begin to weaken. This, in conjunction with genetic factors and or poor lifestyle choices, can lead to a number of different complications.
Signs of Heart Disease
Early signs of heart disease may be difficult to determine and may be ignored altogether. It’s for that reason that you should visit your doctor for regular checkups. That being said any pain or tightness in your chest should warrant a visit or call to your doctor straight away. Other signs of the onset of heart disease include:
- Chest pain during physical activity
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Numbness or tingling in the shoulders, arms, or neck
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, stomach, or neck
- Reduced ability to exercise or be physically active
How to Prevent Heart Disease as you age
While the risk of contracting heart disease is dependent on genetics to a certain extent, it’s also largely related to lifestyle. With this in mind, there are a number of different steps you can take to minimize the risk of developing heart disease.
If you’re a smoker then it’s heavily advised to quit as soon as possible. Smoking is one of the leading causes of various cancers and heart diseases and is associated with higher mortality rates. With regards to the heart, smoking damages artery walls as well as red blood cells, and can lead to arteriosclerosis, a condition in which plaque hardens in your arteries. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis, as well as strokes, cardiac arrest and heart attacks.
Cut down on alcohol
It’s no secret that heavy drinking can lead to any number of debilitating diseases including diabetes, liver disease and certain types of cancer. It can also lead to heart failure. To reduce the risk of heart disease caused by excessive drinking, it’s advisable to cut down when possible. Men should consume no more than two drinks a day and one drink for women.
Follow a healthy diet
Diet plays a huge role in regulating both heart health and overall well-being. The food you eat directly affects both how you feel and how your body functions. To lower the risk of heart disease and other diet-related related maladies such as type-two diabetes, stay away from overly processed foods, and foods high in sugar, additives and trans-fats. Instead, make sure that your diet consists of healthy foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, eggs and foods high in fiber.
Maintain a healthy weight
This goes hand in hand with following a healthy diet, but maintaining a healthy weight is one of the surest ways to minimize the risk of heart disease. Staying physically active while balancing the calories you consume with the calories you burn is important not just for heart health but overall wellbeing.
To maintain a healthy weight, it's advised that you limit your portion sizes, eat only healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and do moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. This doesn’t mean you have to do all of the exercise at the same time; try and break it up over the course of a few days. If you’re unable to do that amount, then do as much as you can. The most important thing is that you stay active to the extent to which you’re able.