Taking care of your heart is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health. What many people don’t realize is that a lot of the little things you do every day can have a huge impact on your heart over time!
When it comes to taking care of your ticker, your everyday habits truly add up!
Remember, one in three Americans suffers from some form of cardiovascular disease, and the risk only gets higher as you get older.
Want to avoid falling victim to a heart attack or stroke, brought on by hypertension or heart disease? Here are six common habits that may be affecting older adults’ heart health for the worse:
1.) Sitting all day
Do you spend all of your work day behind a desk? Is lounging in front of the TV your favorite way to pass the time? If that’s the case, you’re definitely not alone—but you’re not doing your heart any favors, either!
According to findings published by the American Heart Association (AHA), people who “tend to sit for five hours or more each day have double the risk for heart failure” compared to more active people.
To take better care of your heart, find some time to get up and get moving! There are all sorts of ways that you can add a little activity to your daily routine, from taking a short walk every few hours to picking up a new sport with friends. Even a slight change can make a big difference, and just “30 minutes” of activity a day could help prevent heart disease, reports Harvard Health.
2.) Skipping breakfast
How many days of the week do you rush out the door without ever stopping to have a morning meal? If you’re a chronic breakfast-skipper, here’s a spot of bad news: neglecting “the most important meal of the day” could lead to heart disease!
According to a study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, brought to our attention by AARP, “people who skip breakfast entirely or who eat poorly to start the day are at double the risk of developing hardened arteries, which can lead to heart disease.”
To make matters worse, the study also found that people who skipped breakfast tended to have poorer eating habits overall, which could lead to the development of other cardiovascular risk factors, such as higher body weight and BMI levels, and elevated blood pressure.
So, instead of skipping breakfast, take time to start your day right with a heart-healthy meal. You might just see the benefits all day long!
3.) Drinking too much alcohol
While research has shown that a little bit of wine here and there may actually benefit your heart, experts also suggest that overindulging in your favorite boozy drink could be dangerous.
Excess alcohol consumption has been linked to a greater risk of high blood pressure, higher levels of fat in the blood, and even heart failure. What’s more, lots of alcoholic drinks are high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain over time. This can pose a major threat to your overall heart health.
If you do want to drink, keep it light! Most experts recommend limiting your intake to no more than two glasses of alcohol per day for men, and no more than one per day for women. (For reference, one “glass” is usually considered a 12-ounce beer, or a 4-ounce glass of wine.)
Some of the little things our bodies do become so routine that we start to treat them like habits, and ignore them over time. Often, snoring is a minor annoyance. But there are times when it’s a sign of a serious underlying medical problem, like sleep apnea.
More than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a disorder that causes an individual’s breathing to become disrupted when they sleep. Sleep apnea has been linked to elevated blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease.
Sleep apnea also frequently contributes to insomnia, or the inability to get sufficient sleep. A good night’s rest is vital for your heart health; restful sleep lets your heart rate and blood pressure rise and fall, promoting good cardiovascular activity. On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation can create conditions that negatively affect your cardiovascular performance over time.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a medical professional! There are different types of treatments available for sleep apnea and other common sleep disorders. You may be surprised by how much a restful night’s sleep can benefit almost every aspect of your health and wellbeing.
5.) Eating salty, fatty meals
The old saying is that “you are what you eat.”
When it comes your heart, that’s pretty much true! For example, eating lots of foods high in sodium can raise your blood pressure, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Similarly, eating too many foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, can also increase your risk for developing heart disease.
When it comes to your heart, it pays to eat right. That means a diet that’s full of fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods, which tend to be loaded with unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt.
If you’re overweight, focusing on losing a few pounds can also help keep up your heart health; according to Harvard Health, “losing just 5% to 10% of your starting weight can make a big difference in your blood pressure and blood sugar.”
6.) Ignoring your teeth and gums
Did you know that taking care of your mouth can help other parts of your body stay healthy, too? It’s true! For instance, doctors have observed that there is an extremely strong link between gum disease and heart disease.
The common link, doctors believe, is inflammation. Your gums are very vascular, meaning that they’re full of blood vessels. The more inflamed and irritated your gums get, the more likely it is that bacteria can enter your bloodstream through the soft tissue of your gums, leading to more inflammation in other parts of your body—including your arteries and blood vessels.
Brushing and flossing your teeth help keep your mouth healthy, and a healthy mouth can help stop the spread of dangerous bacteria in its tracks. For more thoughts on the benefits of good oral hygiene—and how, along with preventive care, dental insurance may help you stay healthy—please see our post, “What Do I Need to Know About Dental Insurance?”
The bottom line? It’s never too early or too late to start thinking about your heart health. Even the smallest daily changes can amount to a big difference over time!
What do you do to protect your heart health? We’d love to hear your thoughts over on Facebook!
And remember, one of the most important things you can do to safeguard yourself and your family is to have the right insurance coverage in place. Whether you’re interested in:
- adding a critical illness rider to your current policy
- looking into Medicare supplement insurance if you’re 65 or older, or
- finding the right group plan for your business
. . . the Enrollment Specialists can help! Drop us a line today to get the conversation started, free of charge.