Things change as we get older. How you took care of yourself in your 20s might be very different from how you take care of yourself today. That said, it’s important to understand what you should keep in mind as you age. Check out these pointers on what to remember as each decade comes and goes, as well as some things to keep in mind at every age.
All Age Groups: The food you eat can directly contribute to your risk of heart disease, so choose a healthy eating plan that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean poultry and fish. Avoid saturated and trans-fats and an excess of sodium, as well as tobacco products. Pair your healthy eating with regular physical activity. And be aware of the warning signs of heart disease so you can stay on top of your health and help stop issues before they become bigger problems.
Your 20s: Find a primary care provider and get in the habit of regular wellness exams. Even healthy people need providers. Establishing a relationship with one can have long lasting benefits for your health.
Your 30s: Juggling your job and the needs of a family can start to increase stress levels and leave little time for physical activity. Make heart healthy living a family affair with healthy family meals eaten together and family walks each week. Take some time to learn your family history to spot any indicators of future heart health issues for yourself, and make sure your primary care provider is aware of your family medical history. And take some time for you. Stress can have far-reaching impacts on your overall health – including your heart – so even if it’s just a hot bath at the end of the day, don’t lose sight of your own well-being.
Your 40s: You may notice your metabolism slowing down, resulting in the need to work a little more diligently in both diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Finding a workout buddy can help keep exercise engaging. Have your blood sugar checked, in addition to your other heart numbers like blood pressure and cholesterol. If you’re snoring, it could be a clue that you have sleep apnea. Talk with your provider about potential solutions, as sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Your 50s: Keep up with your healthy eating, taking some time to refresh the healthy habits you’ve established over the years. Re-familiarize yourself with the warning signs of heart problems. At this point, despite your best efforts, you may have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or cholesterol. Follow the treatment plan your provider sets out for you to lower your risk for complications.
Your 60s and beyond: Continue seeing your provider regularly. If you haven’t already had one, an ankle-brachial index test can assess the pulse in your feet to help identify any peripheral artery disease, which is the buildup of plaque in the leg arteries. Keep paying attention to maintaining a healthy weight, and be careful not to fall into bad habits. Stay abreast of the warning signs of heart attack, not just in yourself but in your loved ones as well. Men and women can experience heart problems differently and it may be up to you to get your spouse to see a provider.
Heart health is a lifelong journey. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging with your provider about your health and knowing what to look for when it comes to potential issues, you’re going a long way in ensuring a good life for your heart. After all, we only get one. Take care of it well!