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Treat your ticker: Ways to manage heart health

Chances are, we all know someone who currently has, or had heart disease in their lifetime.  Although we know more about heart disease than ever before, education and prevention are still at the forefront of a lot of seniors’ minds. Here are some ways to become familiar with the effects of aging on the heart, and reasons why seniors ought to keep an eye on their cardiovascular well-being.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD), is a cluster term encompassing conditions and disorders related to the heart, blood vessels and circulatory system function. Those can include:

Heart disease can also be closely related to stroke and stroke risk, another concern for seniors. Ruptured or stopped up blood vessels are the most common causes for stroke, further emphasizing the need for heart health awareness.

Why is heart health important?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women nationwide. Nearly one in four U.S. deaths each year is attributable to CVD, about 610,000 annually. Each year 735,000 Americans will have a heart attack; of them 525,000 will experience one for the first time. Nearly half of the general population has at least one of the three major risk factors: high cholesterol, diabetes and/or a smoking habit. The statistics paint an alarming picture of heart disease risk in America, which makes education and prevention outreach all the more important.

How does aging affect heart health?

Heart disease affects people of all ages and ethnicities, but seniors in particular should pay closer attention to heart health. CVD and stroke risks increase after 65. Why? Aging causes changes in the body over time. The hearts of older individuals cannot beat as fast as those of healthy middle-aged adults. This can happen during both minimal physical activity and periods of stress, anxiety, grief and other emotions. The heart can physically change over time, hardening or thickening in some places, which causes problems. Plaque built up over a lifetime and untreated hypertension can also multiply the risks seniors face if they have preexisting conditions or present numerous risk factors.

What can seniors do to prevent CVD?

Fortunately, there are still many steps seniors can take to actively combat heart disease, even if they have a disorder or are at risk. Any action seniors take to prevent CVD is a beneficial one, and here are some resolutions to think about making:

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