Things change the older you get. How you took care of yourself in your 20s might be very different from today. That said, it’s important to understand what you should keep in mind the older you get.
Here are some pointers on what to remember as each decade comes and goes, as well as some things you can keep in mind at any age.
All Age Groups: Choose a healthy eating plan as the food you eat can directly contribute to your risk of heart disease. Foods low in saturated and trans-fat, and sodium, are your best bet. Consider eating oily fish, like salmon, twice a week and steer clear of eating beef more than a few times a month. Combine a healthy diet with physical activity. You don’t have to run marathons, either. Choose a time that you and some friends get together each week for a brisk walk. Sometimes the best way to avoid heart problems is to be educated about the warning signs, so do a little research and ask questions of your doctor.
In Your 20s: Find a doctor and get in the habit of regular wellness exams. Even healthy people need doctors and establishing a relationship with a physician can have long lasting benefits for your health. In addition to healthy eating and exercise, don’t smoke and avoid second hand smoke.
In Your 30s: Juggling your job and the needs of a family can start to take its toll on heart health. In addition to losing some of the free time you once had, the time you do have can be filled with stress instead of exercise. Make heart healthy living a family affair with healthy family meals eaten together and family walks every week. Take some time to learn your family history, as a history of heart disease can provide indicators for your own heart. Make sure your doctor knows about family members with heart disease. Take some time for you. Stress can have far reaching impacts on your health, so even if its just a hot bath at the end of the day, don’t lose sight of your own well-being.
In your 40s: In your 40s, you may notice your metabolism slowing down, and the need to watch your weight more closely. You may have to work a little harder in both diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Finding a workout buddy can be helpful to keep exercise entertaining. Have your blood sugar level checked, in addition to your other heart numbers like blood pressure and cholesterol. Snoring can offer some clues to sleep apnea, so if your partner complains about your snoring, speak to your family doctor as sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressue, heart disease and stroke.
In your 50s: Keep up with the healthy diet. It’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits, so take some time to refresh the healthy eating 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 your treatment plan to lower your risk for complications.
In Your 60s: Congratulations on reaching this milestone. In your 60s a beyond, you should consider to see your physician regularly. If you haven’t already had one, an ankle-brachial index test can assess the pulse in the feet to help identify peripheral artery disease, which is the buildup of plaque in the leg arteries. Keep paying attention to your weight and be careful not to fall into bad habits as life begins to slow down. Learn about the warning signs of heart attack, not just in yourself but in your significant other as well. Men and women experience heart problems differently and it may be up to you to get your spouse to see a doctor.
Heart health is a lifelong journey. By knowing what to look for, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and engaging with your doctor in your heart health you’ve gone a long way towards ensuring the health of your heart. After all, you’ve only got one.
Talk to your primary care provider about your heart health. Use our Find a Doctor tool to find a provider near you.