Heart Health

heart health

Heart disease may be the leading cause of death of seniors, but there are many things you can do to keep your heart healthy.


February is Heart Month! Visit a Berks Encore location nearest you to take part in the “Taking Care of Your Heart” presentation with Denise Joswiak of Berks Visiting Nurses Association.
View upcoming dates
Reading: February 16 @ 11 a.m.
Birdsboro: February 19 @ 10:30 a.m.
Wernersville: February 25 @ 11:45 a.m.

Taking Care of Your Heart” by Denise Joswiak
content from February’s issue of Berks Encore News
Denise outlines several ways to keep your heart healthy.
Read the article

February is Heart Month and a good time to discuss how to keep the heart healthy. The heart pumps blood throughout the body, bringing oxygen and glucose to every organ and cell. According to Web MD, the heart beats about 100,000 times per day, pumping approximately 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. On average, a 70-year-old heart has beat 2.5 million times. The heart is an amazing organ that works hard, so let’s take a closer look at a healthy lifestyle to keep it working its best.

A heart-healthy diet is high in nutrition, but low in fat, cholesterol, and salt (also known as sodium). Aim for no more than 2000 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of fat, and less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day unless instructed differently by your health care provider. Salt causes the body to hold extra water, which results in the heart having to work harder to pump the higher volume. High fat and cholesterol cause buildup of fatty deposits, called plaque, in the blood vessels. This build up can break off and block the blood vessels causing a medical emergency like heart attack, blood clot, or stroke.

Staying active is important for heart health. Finding another person to exercise with may help keep you motivated. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for seniors. The exercise can be broken down into time as little as ten to fifteen minutes per activity session. That goal could be completed in two sessions of fifteen minutes, over five days per week. Remember to discuss what exercise and activity level is best for you before beginning with your health care provider.

Healthy behaviors include being a healthy weight, taking medications as ordered, keeping medical appointments, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol. Smoking is not only harmful to the lungs, but is also harmful to the heart. It can increase blood pressure, decrease circulation, and increase blood clotting. Alcohol use should be discussed with a
healthcare provider because it may interact with medications. Alcohol also raises blood pressure and increases the fat in the bloodstream. Heavy alcohol use may increase the size of the heart, also called cardiomyopathy, and can lead to heart failure. Another healthy behavior is to keep chronic disease, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol under control.

It is important to know where to go to get good information on staying healthy because there are many sources of health information available today. Your healthcare providers know you best, so they are a great source of information from your primary care doctors and nurses to the specialists you see. Another good source of health information is your pharmacist. The internet can be a good source if the information is trusted. The American Heart Association is great for heart health information at www.heart.org. Sites that end in .gov are another option. The new food guide, My Plate, is available at www.choosemyplate.gov, and contains lot of information on a healthy diet.

Parts of a healthy lifestyle include eating a heart healthy diet, being active, practicing healthy behaviors, and managing other chronic conditions. If you are already successful with all of these, that is wonderful, and your heart is healthier for your efforts. If you are not doing as well as you would like to live a healthy lifestyle, pick one area to focus on and begin. Once you feel confident in your efforts, keep going and choose another area to improve until you feel confident in all areas. Your heart will thank you for it!

Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Did you know heart attack symptoms differ based on gender?