Heart health and aging: what you need to know

Image: Heart health and aging: what you need to know

As your body ages so does your heart.

Taking proactive steps to support your heart health will help you stay strong and healthy for many years to come.

Your heart will beat approximately 2.5 billion times over your lifetime, pumping about 7570 litres of blood every day. Given the tremendous workload of your heart, it is amazing that this organ can function so well with daily wear and tear.

As strong as our heart is, aging can cause changes in our heart and blood vessels. People aged 65 and older are much more likely to experience a heart attack or develop a coronary heart disease than younger people. That is why it is especially important to take care of our heart as we age.

Facts about the heart

  • Your heart beats approximately 100,000 times a day
  • It is about the size of two of your hands clasped together
  • Heart cancer is very rare as the heart cells stop dividing early in life
  • Every cell in your body receives blood from your heart, except for your corneas
  • A female’s average heartbeat is faster than a male’s by almost 8 beats/minute
  • Heart attacks occur most often on Christmas Day, followed by December 26th and then New Year’s Day

Heart health tips

According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, 8 out of 10 premature heart disease and stroke cases are preventable. The best way to prevent premature heart disease and stroke is to live a healthy lifestyle. These are some nutrition, exercise and mental well-being tips to show your heart some love.

Nutrition

  • Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that are important for your well-being. Aim to eat 7-10 servings every day
  • Look for products with no added sugar or syrup
  • Avoid salt whenever possible. Our bodies become more sensitive to salt as we age, which may increase blood pressure, and ankle or feet swelling (edema)
  • Choose whole instead of processed bread, pasta and rice
  • Try to avoid highly-processed or ultra-processed foods
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day as water helps digestion, transportation of nutrients, circulation and maintenance of body temperature

Exercise

  • Exercising regularly will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Staying active prevents health risk factors such as obesity, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes
  • Regular exercise reduces the body’s stress levels and stimulates endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are natural painkillers and mood elevators
  • Read the Government of Canada’s physical activity tips for older adults here

Mental well-being

  • Research shows a connection between mental health and heart health. There are biological and chemical factors that trigger mental health issues which in turn could impact heart disease
  • Stress can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. There are certain stressors that you cannot change and there are certain ones that you can. Take action and try to eliminate stressors
  • Take time for self-care and relaxation
  • Make sure that you get enough sleep

Our senior companions are here to help

Staying active can be difficult for some seniors. Our senior companions are here to help. Seniors for Seniors can send a companion to do activities with seniors such as taking walks around the neighbourhood or park, going to a fitness class together and helping to prepare a healthy meal together. The possibilities are virtually endless. Call 1-844-339-8638 to find out more information

Remember, take care of your heart and it will take care of you!

Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/heart-health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/25-amazing-facts-about-your-heart/

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493?page=0&citems=10

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/mental-health-and-heart-health