February Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors
On February 6th, Seniors in the community attended a Lunch and Learn at O'Neill Healthcare Lakewood's Assisted Living to hear speaker, MetroHealth physician, Dr. Christopher Suntala discuss various facts and questions that every senior should know the answer to.
Dr. Suntala focused on tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle. He explained that the heart disease that is most prevalent is coronary artery disease, which causes heart attacks and congestive heart failure from a weakened heart. The doctor did a great job telling us that heart healthy advice is really for healthy aging and brain health as well.
All seniors should have a doctor they see regularly. Anyone with diabetes or hypertension should schedule their doctor's visits at least twice a year, if not more. Most of the time people see their physician four times a year; the idea is the healthier you are, the less you need to see the doctor. Prescribed medications need to be taken faithfully and as ordered by the physician. Good communication and a mutual trust are important to have with your physician. Together with your doctor you can make any changes as needed and add supplements.
Dr. Suntala informed us that recently blood pressure guidelines have been scaled back as the medical community has realized it is easy to over treat seniors in pursuit of recent more aggressive targets. Target systolic blood pressure for someone 80 years old for instance, has been relaxed to 150. 140 is now the upper acceptable number for everyone including those with diabetes. Congestive heart failure patients also have a lower target.
Here are some overall tips from Dr. Christopher Suntala:
Physical exercise – it benefits all conditions and grows new brain cells, improves cholesterol, living longer, lessens the chance for Alzheimer’s and adds potential social benefits (such as exercising in a group). A combination of modest weight lifting and cardiovascular are the best. These can even be done seated for those who might need a lighter workout.
Pharmaceutical treatments – some of the prescriptions doctors might recommend consist of: statins, ACE and ARB drugs, vasodilating beta blockers, Zetia, Fish oil, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 as well as aspirin. Be sure to discuss what drugs your physician is recommending and why so you can work with as a team to set health goals.
Diet – there is no one right diet. The most heart healthy is reducing carbohydrates and adding protein, as well as vegetables. All food should be eaten with moderation. Dr. Suntala spoke about the Mediterranean Diet which has shown to reduce heart attacks. This diet involves eating a lot of fish and olive oil, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, some meat and red wine.
A list of Dr. Suntala’s best foods to eat: salmon or herring, salad with olive oil-based dressing, fruit salad, vegetable stir fry with or without meat, minestrone soup, chicken soup and as for fish, frozen is better than canned. The worst foods to eat are those with excess sugar and fat such as pop, doughnuts, cookies and desserts. Avoid foods that are processed coming in a box or bag.
Reducing stress hormones can benefit one’s heart health as well. Anxiety increases adrenaline which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Stress increases cortisol levels which increases blood pressure and blood sugar. Exercise such as yoga and tai chi have proven to reduce stress and social activity improves intellectual performance.
Over all Dr. Suntala left us with the message BE HAPPY! Happiness correlates with better outcomes regarding heart disease and life expectancy. Challenge your mind, do something different. Enjoying your life has more benefits than constantly worrying about what food you should eat or activities to do. So don’t worry, be happy!
O’Neill Healthcare Lakewood offers Skilled Nursing (5 Star Rating), Long Term Care, Assisted Living (Deficiency Free ratings), Independent Living, in-house therapy as well as On-site Dialysis through Fresenius Medical (a Collaboration with MetroHealth and Cleveland Clinic).
Sarah Rohland O'Neill Healthcare Lakewood
reporting from O'Neill Healthcare Lakewood