Siloam Springs Herald Leader
Keeping your heart healthy at every age
Achieving heart-healthy milestones at each stage of life will help keep your heart fit. Follow these guidelines to be on your way to a stronger heart.
IN YOUR 30S
It’s never too early to develop heart-healthy habits. Cardiac events are rising among women in their 20s and 30s — especially if they smoke or use birth control pills.
Take care of your heart by eating a nutritious diet (Johns Hopkins recommends the Mediterranean diet), as well as caring for your physical and mental health. Try community sports to stay active, practice meditation or seek therapy to reduce your stress levels, and stay social rather than bingeing shows or doom-scrolling.
Johns Hopkins researchers found young men prone to angry outbursts were more likely to develop premature heart disease and heart attack risks.
Have your blood pressure checked every two years unless you have a history of elevated blood pressure or other risk factors. You should also receive a cholesterol screening at least every five years. Investigate your family history for heart disease, and discuss your findings with your doctor to determine if more frequent screenings are appropriate.
DURING YOUR 40S AND 50S
Healthful lifestyle choices should remain a top priority. Ensure that you aren’t sedentary by getting up from your desk and moving every hour. In addition, cut back at cocktail hour.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, consuming more than three alcoholic drinks each day can increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Moderate drinking is vital for heart health. That means two drinks per day for men and one drink for women.
You should also keep track of your numbers, including your weight, blood pressure and belly fat. Though it may seem like an odd piece of health advice, stubborn belly fat becomes more common after 40 and increases the risks of heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol fluctuations and breathing problems. After 45, be sure to schedule a fasting blood glucose screening.
AGE 65 AND BEYOND
Continue to monitor risk factors you can control, including weight, diet and exercise, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for wellness screenings. Generally, healthy adults in this age range need a yearly physical and blood pressure screening, as well as at least one cholesterol screening every three to five years.
According to the American Heart Association, adults older than age 60 also need an ankle-brachial index test every one to two years to check for peripheral artery disease.
While screenings are essential, so is your mental health. Be sure to spend time with friends. According to a Cornell University study, loneliness can accelerate cardiovascular aging and increase heart disease risk. However, strong social bonds help you live longer.
If you have concerns about your health or want to make a change, speak with your physician. To schedule an appointment with a primary care physician, visit https://bit.ly/PCP_Online today!
SIGN UP FOR THE HEALTHY HEART CHALLENGE
It’s time to show your heart some love with our 28-Day Healthy Heart Challenge. Sign up now and every day in February we’ll send you heart healthy tips along with a daily challenge to boost heart health. Visit NorthwestHealth.com/heart-challenge to register today!