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Make heart health a priority

Posted February 19, 2014 in Advice Column, Windsor Heights

When we think about the month of February, we turn to those we love. This month more than any other we show those we love our feelings through candlelight dinners, flowers and chocolates. Not only is it the month in which we celebrate love and romance, it’s also American Heart Month. Unfortunately, many of us give the hearts in our Valentine’s Day cards more thought than we do the heart in our bodies.

Reflect about your own heart — are you giving your heart the attention it deserves? Taking steps to maintain a healthy heart at any age is important, but as you continue into your golden years, heart health is even more important.  Heart disease is responsible for more deaths in the United States than anything else. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates at least 200,000 deaths each year from cardiovascular disease could be prevented.

Keep your heart healthy — tips for seniors
Your heart, being the most valuable organ, should be top priority throughout your life. Eat a well-balanced diet each day. We get bombarded with information from the media about what to eat and what not to eat. Many times this information can be conflicting.  The American Heart Association suggests eating a variety of nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, unrefined whole grains and fish. Cut back on nutrient-lacking foods that are high in fat, cholesterol and salt. Stick to the basics when choosing what to eat.

•    Keep moving. A 30-minute walk a day helps to keep your heart in good shape. If 30 minutes seems too difficult, start small — two 15-minute brisk walks a day will bring you up to the total minutes desired. Stay active.

•    Absolutely do not smoke. Smoking or using tobacco is one of the biggest risk factors in developing heart disease. According to the CDC, smoking increases your risk of stroke and heart disease by up to four times.

•    Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds around your middle can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — all conditions that increase your chances of heart disease.

•    Visit your doctor routinely for regular health screenings. If you have already been diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, your heart may be gradually being damaged as you read this. If you don’t know whether you have these conditions, the damage can occur without you having any idea. Work with your doctor to get a handle on your heart health and to lower potential risk factors.

Heart health and wellness —make good choices. You’ll be glad you did.

Information provided by Susan Ray, executive director, The Reserve on Walnut Creek, 2727 82nd Place, Urbandale, 515-727-5927,

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