February is American Heart Month

Make Heart Health Part of Your Self - Care Routine

Karen Lebuhn

February is American Heart Month! What is heart health for the aging?

Heart Health and Healthy Food According to the National Institute on Aging, aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels. For example, as you get older, your heart can’t beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when you were younger. As you get older, it’s important for you to have your blood pressure checked regularly, even if you are healthy.  Many seniors become sensitive to salt, which may cause an increase in blood pressure and/or edema.

Authors write about the heart in poetry and literature,  as human’s center of love, emotions and one’s being. The condition of one’s heart affects speech, actions and thoughts. Anger, chronic stress and depression affect your heart too. Psychosocial factors such as job loss, grief and poverty may contribute to heart attacks and cardiac arrest. Since our hearts are not visible to us daily for regular assessments nor does our society place value on talking about reducing stress to improve our heart health…the first symptoms of heart damage frequently are the last symptom. Massive heart attacks, strokes and blockages are the heart’s response to years of neglect.

Heart disease is largely preventable and focusing on improving your heart health has never been more important. Americans are aging as the baby boomer generation is reaching age 65, with heart disease is a leading cause of death for women and men in the United States.  Many younger Americans remain at risk of getting it, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“Studies show self-care routines, such as taking a daily walk and keeping doctor’s appointments, help us keep our blood pressure in the healthy range and reduce our risk of heart disease and stroke,” said David Goff, M.D., NHLBI’s director of cardiovascular sciences.

Make every day a healthy one

Calendar Here are few self-care tips to try every day to make your heart a priority:

Self-Care Sunday

Find a moment of serenity every Sunday. Spend some quality time on yourself.

Mindful Monday

Be mindful about your health and regularly monitor your blood pressure or blood sugar if needed. Keep an eye on your weight to make sure it stays within or moves toward a healthy range. Being aware of your health status is a key to making positive change.

Tasty Tuesday

Explore heart healthy foods, add 1 or 2 to your diet.  Or go big by trying a different way of eating, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure. DASH is flexible and balanced, and it includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, lean meats, beans, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Wellness Wednesday

Move more, eat a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried, make a plan to quit smoking or vaping, or learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke.  

Treat Yourself Thursday

Treats can be healthy.  Host a family dance party, take a few minutes to sit still and try yoga, go for a long walk, or play with the family dog.   Try a meditation app like Calm or Headspace to learn how to meditate.

Follow Friday

Remember to take care of your mental health, too. Two of the main hurdles to self-care are depression and a lack of confidence, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.   Reach out to family and friends for support, or talk to a qualified mental health provider. Mental health is physical health.

Selfie Saturday

Inspire others to take care of their own hearts. Talk about your self-care routine with loved ones or share a selfie on your social media platforms. Hearts can heal and mend. How will you improve your heart health?