HEALTHY HEART BLOG

Taking control of heart health for women over 50

Taking control of heart health for women over 50

Heart disease affects over one in three Americans, including 85% of people over the age of 80. As we age, it is crucial to take control of heart health in order to decrease the risk of heart disease. Women are particularly at an increased risk of having heart disease misdiagnosed or mistreated, as they are twice as likely to receive the wrong initial diagnosis after a heart attack.

Decreasing the risk of heart disease
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major cardiac risk factor, and needs to be monitored – even for those already on blood pressure medication. It is wise to take control of your heart health by using the QardioArm smart blood pressure monitor to take blood pressure measurements on a regular basis. Exercise as we age is crucial in order to decrease our risk of heart disease, particularly for women. Exercise decreases the risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and helps weight control

Heart health benefits of exercise
A good exercise program can also help decrease fatigue and shortness of breath. This will enable one to maintain their activities of daily living and the sports that they enjoy. So not only does exercise after age 50 help decrease the risk of heart disease, it improves quality of life. Of course, age related heart changes may still occur, such as arrhythmias, lipid profile changes, and insulin sensitivity, but these can be delayed or sometimes prevented by staying active. Lastly, exercise helps to reduce stress which is correlated to heart issues.

Beginning a new exercise routine
As for heart healthy exercise after age 50, start after having a full medical check-up. If there are any medical issues, an appropriate exercise routine will need to be developed and modified by a professional. A great place to start is with a walking program, or any gentle aerobic exercise that increases the heart rate. If there are no orthopedic issues or other health issues, it is fine to add jogging, hiking, and aerobic exercise classes.

Strength training for a healthy heart
Resistance training also has heart healthy benefits. It increases blood flow and may lead to longer lasting blood pressure control. It helps to increase muscle mass which will help in weight control. The resistance or strength training program should include exercises that strengthen every major muscle group. This would include, squats, lunges, leg lifts, planks, push ups and numerous core strengthening exercises

Preventing heart disease
Education and lifestyle changes can prevent 80% of heart attack and stroke events. Women need to learn how to decrease their cardiac risk through exercise, education and a healthy lifestyle. It is also crucial to understand the signs of a heart attack. The heart attack symptoms for women are oftentimes different from those of men. Visit Go for Red Women to learn about the symptoms of a heart attack for a woman and how to prevent heart disease.

Guest post contributed by: Carol Michaels MBA, ACE, ACSM is a nationally recognized exercise specialist and the founder of Recovery Fitness®.  She is a speaker for corporate wellness programs and has appeared on health related radio and television. Carol is also the author of Exercises for Cancer Survivors.

Sources:
World Health Organization
American Heart Association

Last updated: October 3, 2018