Senior Snippets: Tips For a Healthy Heart

Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Bryn Evans, Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Barnsley.

We would like to share a few tips from the British Heart Foundation for keeping a healthy heart.

1. Cut down on salt. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Avoid foods like crisps, salted nuts, canned and packet soups and sauces, baked beans, and ready meals. Many breakfast cereals and breads that appear healthy also contain high levels of salt, so keep your eye on these too.

2. Watch your diet. A healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and can also help increase the chances of survival after a heart attack. You should try to have a balanced diet, containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish, starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice.

3. Get active. The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to keep fit so that it can pump blood efficiently round your body with each heartbeat. Keeping fit not only benefits your physical health – it improves your mental health and wellbeing too.

4. Manage your weight. The number of people who are overweight in Britain is rising fast. Carrying a lot of extra weight as fat can greatly affect your health and increases the risk of life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. If you are overweight or obese, start by making small, but healthy changes to what you eat, and try to become more active.

5. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked by your GP. People with high blood pressure run a higher risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. High levels of cholesterol in the blood – produced by the liver from saturated fats – can lead to fatty deposits in your coronary arteries that increase your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diseases that affect the circulation. You can help lower your cholesterol level by exercising and eating high-fibre foods such as porridge, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

6. Check your family history. If a close relative is at risk of developing coronary heart disease from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, obesity and diabetes, then you could be at risk too.

7. Make sure you can recognise the early signs of coronary heart disease. Tightness or discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or stomach which comes on when you exert yourself but goes away with rest may be the first sign of angina, which can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.

I’d love to hear from you! To make a suggestion for a future topic, please write to me at bryn.evans@homeinstead.co.uk or by post to Home Instead Senior Care, 18 Barugh Green Road, Barugh Green, Barnsley, S75 1JT. Alternatively, you can also call me on 01226 391010.

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