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Keeping your heart young

March 2, 2016 Art of Aging

Older adults diagnosed with heart and cardiovascular diseases can benefit from making healthy choices in their day-to-day lives.

Follow a healthy diet

Making healthier food choices will help your body get the nutrients it needs without all the unnecessary calories.

These are the elements of a heart-healthy diet (amounts listed are for adults):

  • Eat two cups fresh fruits and two and a half to three cups vegetables every day.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat more chicken and fish and less red meat.
  • Eat six to eight ounces of grains, of which at least half should be from whole-grain bread and cereal.
  • Limit or eliminate fast foods, which are often loaded with salt, sugar and fats.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so moderately. That means no more than two drinks a day if you're a man, one if you're a woman.
  • Limit your salt and sodium intake to 2,400 mg per day.
  • Get the equivalent of three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or dairy products (or soy, rice, or almond milk for people who are lactose-intolerant) every day.

Exercise more

Regular exercise keeps your heart and the rest of your body in shape. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you've been sedentary and/or have a chronic disease. Start slowly and increase your activity gradually with a goal of 40 minutes of moderate exercise, three to four days a week. While you’re at it, try incorporating weight training and stretching exercises several times a week.

Stop smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Here's how to live smoke-free:

  • Decide to quit and set a quit date. Try again if you fail. Successful quitters often tried many times before they were able to quit.
  • Ask your doctor for information about cessation aids, such as a nicotine patch or inhaler.

Register for a smoking cessation class

Learn to relax

Chronic anger and stress can damage your heart. Try these suggestions to better cope with life's pressures:

  • Try to be positive instead of negative in your outlook on life.
  • Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply.
  • Take time for yourself each day. Read a book, listen to music, or enjoy a hobby.

Monitor your health

Be proactive when it comes to your heart's health. To do so, work with your health care provider to reduce your heart disease risk by following up with him or her for treatment for high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Register for a blood pressure screening

About the Lankenau Heart Institute

As one of the top-performing cardiovascular medicine and surgery programs in the country, the Lankenau Heart Institute provides world-class, innovative care to patients with heart disease at every stage. With four hospitals and many community cardiology sites throughout the region—including Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—our team of cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and sub-specialists seamlessly integrate prevention, diagnostics, treatment, rehabilitation and disease management into one uncompromising service.

Together we’re delivering life-saving treatments with life-changing outcomes.