Heart disease is a serious health concern for many people, particularly older adults. According to the American Heart Association, one in three American adults suffer from a cardiovascular disease, which continues to be the number one cause of death among Americans. February is American Heart Month, the perfect time to learn about risk factors for heart disease and the steps to take to prevent it.
Getting older, having diabetes, and having a family history of diabetes are some of the factors that increase the risk for high blood pressure. Other factors that can put a person at risk include lack of exercise, obesity, too much alcohol, and smoking. High blood pressure is a condition that affects nearly half of all adults and can lead to serious heart disease or death. It is often called the “silent killer” because, for many, it has no obvious symptoms to indicate something is wrong.
“February is American Heart Month, the perfect time to learn about risk factors for heart disease and steps to take to prevent it.”
AgeWell Cincinnati’s partner organization, the Mayerson JCC Senior Center, offers plenty of opportunities to help prevent high blood pressure and manage it effectively. On the last Thursday of every month from 10 – 11 a.m., Senior Center and Mayerson JCC members can get their blood pressure checked at the J. The screenings are offered free of charge by StarPoint Home Care, a subsidiary of Jewish Family Service.
Connect with others. Loneliness and social isolation have been shown to have harmful effects on health and longevity, especially among older adults. In 2013, research found that loneliness can impair health by raising levels of stress hormones and inflammation, which in turn can increase your risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and dementia. The Mayerson JCC Senior Center offers more than 1,200 opportunities each year for older adults to create new connections. Engage in new ideas with a discussion group, try a challenging exercise program, or have a new experience on one of the Senior Center’s many day trips. Reconnect with old friends or meet fascinating new people to enrich your social circle at the J.
Exercise. Exercise is incredibly effective at helping to control blood pressure; when you exercise, your body releases a substance called nitric acid. Nitric acid causes blood vessels to open, which reduces blood pressure. Exercise also helps to strengthen your heart, reduce stress, and aid weight loss. The Mayerson JCC Senior Center offers several popular exercise classes that can help in the fight against high blood pressure while improving your strength and balance, including Fit for Life, Healthy Steps for Balance (starting in March), Chair Yoga, and Tai Chi.
Eat healthily. Maintaining the right type of diet can lower your risk for high blood pressure or help you return to normal blood pressure. Clinical studies show that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts really works. The Mayerson JCC offers a healthy, balanced kosher meal at the J Café as the Super Senior Meal Deal or in their traditional sit-down kosher lunch that is served Monday through Friday at noon. The J’s To-Go Meal program also allows you to take the lunch of the day home so you can eat it for dinner.
Cut bad habits. Putting the brakes on smoking and drinking, watching your weight, and reducing your salt intake will help keep your blood pressure in check. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked by a trained healthcare provider.