While you might be aware that heart disease is a serious medical condition, you might not know that it is the leading cause of death for people over age 50. Approximately 600,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year, and that accounts for nearly one of every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In recent years, progress has been made to raise awareness about the dangers of heart disease as well as the steps individuals can take to keep their hearts healthy. The American Heart Association (AHA) has played an integral role in these efforts.
February marks American Heart Month, so now is the perfect time to make your heart health a priority. Today's seniors are more active than ever. As a result, individuals who are 65 and older live longer, healthier lives when compared to seniors of the past.
The AHA recommends that older adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. This should include activities that provide strength and cardiovascular training like light weight lifting, yoga and water aerobics. Use American Heart Month as motivation to incorporate these activities into your weekly schedule.
Although the risk of heart disease increases with age, it isn't an unavoidable part of aging. Some risk factors tied to heart disease such as age and family history, can't be controlled, however, there are many controllable risk factors that can lower your chances if kept in check. During American Heart Month, and throughout the whole year, take these steps to lower your risk of heart disease:
It's important to focus on the things you can control, like living a healthy lifestyle.
If you have chest pain that comes and goes, shortness of breath or heartburn that's unrelated to food, don't hesitate to call your doctor. Be sure to have a conversation with them about heart disease and what you can do to prevent it.
Dr. Judith Black is the medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc.