Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death globally? This February, let’s unite to spread awareness and take proactive steps towards a healthier heart.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all genders, races, and ethnicities in the United States. According to the CDC, it claims a life every 34 seconds. That makes it so that roughly one out of every five deaths is a direct result of heart disease. That’s a statistic that’s hard to swallow. Are you at risk?
With the advancement of modern-day medicine, doctors can look at various known risk factors and determine with some degree of accuracy what your odds of developing heart disease will be. Heart attacks and strokes can be catastrophic, but 80 percent of premature heart disease is preventable. That’s why it’s important to know and understand your risk.
Do you have a family history of heart disease? Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle? Are your eating habits not as great as they should be? There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of suffering from heart disease, with certain risk factors worse than others. So let’s take a closer look at risk factors you should watch out for.
Age and Other Uncontrollable Factors
Although many of us would love to turn back time, age is one heart disease risk factor we can’t control. Age alone doesn’t cause heart disease, but the older you get, the greater your overall risk becomes.
Adults aged 65 and older are more likely than younger people to suffer from cardiovascular disease. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. In 2020, eight out of 10 deaths from coronary heart disease happened in adults 65 and older. Sadly, the longer you live, the more you’re exposed to possible heart disease risk factors, which means damage continues to add up.
Family history is another risk factor out of your control. For example, if your father or brother was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease before age 55, you’re more likely to suffer from it. The same goes for if your mother or sister was diagnosed before age 65. People with a strong family history of heart disease typically have one or more risk factors.
Nearly one in two adults suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps. Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease because it increases how hard the heart has to work, which makes the heart muscle thicken and become stiffer.
There are several causes for having blood pressure, including genetics, diet, stress, and lack of physical activity. Other than genetics, you have control over your blood pressure. You should eat a diet low in salt and limit your alcohol consumption. You should also engage in regular physical activity, which will help not only strengthen your heart and keep you in shape but will also help to decrease stress.
According to the CDC, almost 2 in 5 adults in the United States have high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance made in the liver and found in the blood. Not all cholesterol is bad. HDL cholesterol is needed for making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid. However, when you have low HDL cholesterol and too much LDL cholesterol, you become at risk for heart disease.
High cholesterol occurs when bad cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries and limits blood flow. This can then lead to a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol, like high blood pressure, can be hereditary, but most causes can be controlled with healthy lifestyle changes and modifications, such as eating healthy and exercising. There are no symptoms of high cholesterol, so it’s important that you have routine blood screenings to detect it.
Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels by causing an increase in plaque buildup. Having diabetes puts you twice as likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Plaque buildup causes the arteries to harden and narrow, resulting in blood flow blockage. An increase in plaque also puts you at risk of developing a blood clot, which occurs when bits of plaque break loose.
Diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise in addition to medication. If you are prediabetic or have diabetes, you should work with your provider to develop a diabetes management plan to bring and keep your blood glucose to a healthier level.
Smoking, Weight, and Other Lifestyle Controllable Factors
One of the biggest causes of coronary heart disease is smoking. It is also one of the most preventable causes of premature death. It doesn’t matter how long you have been a smoker; if you stop today, you can reap the benefits. Smoking decreases your oxygen levels as well as increases the formation of plaque.
Being overweight or obese can raise your risk of heart disease all on its own. Carrying excess weight causes your heart to work harder, which can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s important to stay active and eat a healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich foods, whole grains, and lean meats.
Yes, heart disease is prevalent, but you have the power to reduce and control your risk factor. Preventative health check-ups are advised to help you stay on top of your heart health. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to heart disease. Take action now and get on the road to Better Health and a healthier heart.
Chicken Marsala is an Italian-American dish full of flavor and elegance. You are for sure to wow your dining companions with this recipe. This dish encompasses succulent, juicy chicken simmered in a marsala and mushroom sauce.
There are several variations of this Italian classic, with some not being the healthiest for you. However, the key and star ingredient in all of them is the marsala wine mushroom sauce. Marsala is a popular fortified dessert wine with hints of vanilla, brown sugar, apricot, and tamarind. Some recipe variations make this sauce thick and creamy. However, this version of the marsala wine sauce keeps it pretty simple and waist-friendly.
Believe it or not, the marsala wine not only gives this dish its savory flavor but also provides much of its health properties. The wine and mushrooms provide antioxidants that help to fight off cellular damage. Cellular damage leads to premature aging, disease, and cancer. There’s also research that suggests mushrooms may help prevent or slow down age-related cognitive decline.
This heart healthy chicken marsala is incredibly quick and easy to make, making it the perfect weeknight meal.
Heart Healthy Chicken Marsala
Few ingredients, but plenty of flavor, make this an easy and elegant recipe.
- ⅛ Cucharadita de pimienta negra molida
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ C flour
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 oz each)
- ½ C Marsala wine
- Fresh lemon juice, from ½ lemon
- ½ C chicken stock (skim fat from top)
- ½ C sliced mushrooms1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Mix black pepper, salt, and flour. Coat chicken breasts with seasoned flour.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Place chicken breasts in the skillet and brown on both sides. Then remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
To the skillet, add wine and stir until the wine is heated. Add lemon juice, chicken stock, and mushrooms. Stir to toss, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes until the sauce is partially reduced.
Return the browned chicken breasts to the skillet. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is done.
Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Recipe courtesy of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
February 20th is “Love Your Pet Day.” A special day dedicated to showering our pets with extra affection, treats, and attention, recognizing the joy and comfort they bring to our homes. Whether you have a loyal canine companion, a purring feline friend, or any other beloved creature, take this opportunity to express gratitude for the unique bond you share and the profound health benefits they provide.
For older adults, life can become quieter and lonely as the years go by. One way to combat this life change is by owning a pet. The health benefits of owning a pet for seniors far outweigh the work that goes into owning one.
Our furry, feathery, or even scaly family members can provide a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The bond between seniors and their pets goes far beyond mere companionship. Here are some of the top health benefits of owning a pet for seniors
Reduces Loneliness and Isolation
As they get older, many seniors experience feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This can lead to depression and other significant health problems. Having a pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, or even a bird, provides companionship and helps to reduce these feelings of isolation. Pets are loyal and loving, offering unconditional affection that can significantly improve your mental and emotional well-being.
Increases Physical Activity
One of the biggest benefits of owning a pet, particularly an active dog, is that it forces you to be physical. Dogs need to be walked, which in turn encourages regular physical activity on your part. Seniors with dogs are more likely to go for daily walks or play with them in the yard. Even this little bit of physical activity helps maintain mobility, joint flexibility, and cardiovascular health. In addition, physical activity of any kind leads to a stronger immune system and a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Lowers Stress and Anxiety
Simply looking at a picture of a little puppy or kitten is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Studies show that petting a dog or cat can trigger the release of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. It also increases the “feel good” hormone dopamine while decreasing the level of the stress hormone cortisol. This fluctuation helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, a pet’s rhythmic, soothing presence can help lower blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.
Boosts Mental Alertness
Interacting with pets can stimulate mental alertness and cognitive function. While training your pet and teaching them tricks helps to boost their mental capacity, it also helps to maintain your mental acuity. This mental stimulation can delay the onset of cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fosters a Sense of Purpose
Most of us work hard and look forward to the day we can finally hang up our work boots and retire. However, when that day finally comes, many seniors often experience a diminished sense of purpose. Owning a pet can give you back a sense of responsibility and purpose. Caring for a pet requires routine tasks like feeding, grooming, and exercise, providing structure to your days and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Enhances Social Connections
A study has shown pet owners are more apt to meet their neighbors than non-pet owners. Pets make great icebreakers for seniors when they are out on walks or at pet-friendly facilities. This can give you an opportunity to connect with others and strike up a conversation.
Reduces the Risk of Allergies and Asthma
Although it sounds like it would be the opposite, having a pet has been found to reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma the older we get. This can be an added health benefit for seniors who have had pets throughout their lives.
Get Your “Purrfect” Companion
Owning a pet can do wonders for your health and well-being. These little bundles of joy enrich seniors’ lives in ways that extend far beyond companionship. The emotional, physical, and mental health benefits of having a pet cannot be argued or overlooked. Seniors who share their lives with a furry friend often experience reduced stress, increased physical activity, enhanced emotional well-being, and a greater sense of purpose.
If you’re a senior considering pet ownership, choosing an animal that matches your lifestyle and needs is important. If you’re unable to walk or aren’t terribly mobile, a dog might not be the best choice for you. You should talk to your healthcare provider and discuss your ability to own a pet. With the right pet choice and proper care, you could reap the many health benefits of owning a pet for seniors while making lasting and unforgettable memories.
Good circulation is vital for maintaining overall health and well-being. It ensures that oxygen and essential nutrients are efficiently delivered to every part of your body while removing waste and carbon dioxide. Poor circulation can lead to a host of health problems, including cold extremities, fatigue, and even serious conditions like peripheral artery disease. Luckily, you can enhance your blood flow naturally by incorporating specific foods into your diet. Here are some of the top foods that can help improve circulation and overall cardiovascular health.
Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols. These compounds help to relax blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow throughout the body. Additionally, the high vitamin C content in berries promotes healthy blood vessel function. You can easily include berries in your diet by adding them to yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies. Also, frozen berries make for a great low-calorie, low-fat snack when you’re craving something a little sweet.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and trout are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s reduce inflammation and help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. They can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots. Aim to consume fatty fish at least twice a week to benefit from their circulatory benefits.
Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are packed with vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium. These nutrients help regulate blood pressure and maintain the health of the arteries. The nitrates in leafy greens can also dilate blood vessels, enhancing circulation. Incorporate them into salads, soups, smoothies, or as a side dish.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are high in vitamin C and flavonoids. These compounds can strengthen capillary walls and enhance the overall health of your circulatory system. A glass of fresh citrus juice or a piece of fruit makes for an excellent snack or addition to your meals.
Garlic is known for its numerous health benefits, including its ability to improve circulation. It contains allicin, a natural compound that helps relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Fresh garlic is the most potent form, but you can also take garlic supplements if the odor is a concern.
Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels and promotes blood flow. Consuming beets can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. You can eat them roasted, in salads, or even drink beetroot juice. You can buy them fresh or in a can for easy consumption. They also come pickled.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds, are high in healthy fats, including omega-3s, fiber, and antioxidants. These components can help reduce inflammation and support heart health. Additionally, they contain arginine, an amino acid that helps dilate blood vessels and improve circulation.
Turmeric is a spice renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, can enhance blood vessel function, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation. Incorporate turmeric into your diet by adding it to curries, soups, or making a turmeric tea. You can also find turmeric in a supplement form.
Eat for Circulation
A diet rich in foods that improve circulation is essential for maintaining overall health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. By including the above foods in your meals, you can naturally enhance your blood flow and support a healthy circulatory system. Remember that maintaining a balanced diet, along with regular physical activity and other healthy lifestyle choices, is key to achieving optimal circulation and long-term well-being.
5 Healthy Habits That May Help.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia affecting more than 6 million Americans of all ages. It’s a progressive brain disease that causes a decline in memory, reasoning, and thinking skills.
Alzheimer’s symptoms can begin with simple forgetfulness and eventually lead to severe cognitive issues making it difficult to carry out daily activities. Many Alzheimer’s patients also experience mood and behavior changes, disorientation, and difficulty talking, swallowing, and walking.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of death among Americans age 65 and older. It’s estimated that one in nine people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s.
Lifestyle Habits To Protect Your Brain
There is currently no cure for this debilitating disease. However, research has shown that adopting key healthy lifestyle habits can help to prevent Alzheimer’s or help to slow down pending cognitive decline. Establish these habits to help keep your brain sharp and healthy.
Eat A Balanced Diet
For years, studies have suggested that what we eat affects our brain. Certain foods can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation – two of the main culprits of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein – particularly protein sources containing omega-3 fatty acids – may help improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s. This type of diet is often referred to as the Mediterranean diet and is known for improving cardiovascular health and lowering high cholesterol.
We all know that physical exercise is good for your overall health, but it is crucial to brain health. It actually helps increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Exercise also elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to your body and brain. Proper blood flow ensures that your brain is receiving its much-needed oxygen and nutrients in order to function. The World Health Organization recommends that older adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week. This can include walking, swimming, or cycling.
Staying socially engaged with others is an essential factor for a healthy and balanced life. It not only improves your mental health, but it can help stimulate your brain as well. Studies show that people who suffer from loneliness have less cognitive function.
A great way to be social is by being active in your community or volunteering. Exercise classes are also a great way to develop a social network. Activities such as dancing get your heart rate up, allow you to meet new people, and strengthen your brain because they require mental focus to learn steps and routines.
Smoking doesn’t do you or your body any favors. It not only increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung disease, and other health conditions, it also negatively impacts your brain. This dangerous habit has been found to literally shrink your brain.
Of course, not everyone who smokes will get Alzheimer’s; however, several studies show a correlation between smoking and dementia. Smoking deprives the brain of oxygen while also causing oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body. Smoking is one habit you definitely want to break.
Get Enough Sleep
Just as the rest of your body needs sleep, so does your brain. However, when you’re asleep, your brain is still very much active. Your nighttime slumber allows your brain to cleanse and wash away toxins and waste that have formed throughout the day.
When you’re in a deep sleep, your body temperature drops, and the brain begins to produce slow, rhythmic electrical waves. It’s during this stage of sleep that the brain can reduce the accumulation of precursor proteins known as beta-amyloid and tau, two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.
Try to get at least seven to eight hours of rest nightly. Establish a good sleep schedule and nightly routine that promotes a healthy sleeping environment. Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sleep.
Improve Your Lifestyle Improve Your Brain
Even though there’s still a lot to learn on whether or not we can prevent Alzheimer’s, there are still many measures you can take to reduce your risk factors of developing it. Living a healthy lifestyle and making good choices is always a good idea, and it is never too late to start.
For more information on Alzheimer’s or disease prevention, contact a SaludVIP provider near you!