February is American Heart Health Month. Fair Haven in Birmingham has recently partnered with TMC (Therapy Management Corporation) for rehabilitation and therapy services in their 42 private suite rehabilitation center. One of the strengths that TMC brings to Fair Haven is in the arena of cardiac health – that is, the health of the heart.
TMC shares with us six heart healthy habits for seniors.
#1 Know the Warning Signs of Heart Disease
You are your best advocate for your heart health. Knowing what to look out for can help you keep an eye out for any problems. Some of the warning signs of heart disease include:
• Pain, numbness and/or tingling in the arms, neck, jaw, or back
• Shortness of breath when active, at rest, or while lying flat
• Chest pain during physical activity that gets better when you rest
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Cold sweats
• Tiredness or fatigue
• Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, stomach, and/or neck
• Reduced ability to exercise or be physically active
• Problems doing your normal activities
#2 Visit your Healthcare Provider
Don’t skip routine doctor visits. Come prepared to ask questions about your risk factors for heart disease. Talk with your doctor about your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers so that you can know what they mean to your overall health. Listen to your doctor and make the lifestyle changes that can affect your health, such as losing weight or quitting smoking.
#3 Eat a Heart Healthy Diet
Choose foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, and low in added sugars and salt. As we get older, we become more sensitive to salt, which can cause swelling in the legs and feet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and foods that are high in fiber, such as those made from whole grains. Pay careful attention to portion sizes as well.
#4 Exercise a Little Daily
Talk with your doctor about the best kinds of exercises for you. If possible, aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, which is about 20 minutes a day. Start by doing activities you enjoy, such as taking a brisk walk, dancing, bowling, bicycling or gardening. Avoid spending hours on end sitting. Just a little daily exercise goes a long way.
#5 Quit Bad Habits
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Smoking adds to the damage to artery walls. Drinking excessive alcohol can also damage your heart. Men should not have more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and women no more than one per day.
#6 Manage Your Stress
Learning how to manage stress, relax and cope with problems can help your heart. Consider relaxing activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, adult coloring or other art projects, music therapy, or find a new hobby to enjoy.
For more information about heart health, you can visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.
For more information about life at Fair Haven, including details on our how to make Fair Haven your new home, contact Lifestyle Specialist Ardell Fleeson at 205-880-1942, or send an email to her at AFleeson@fairhavenbirmingham.org.