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Heart-Healthy at Any Age: 50s

 

by the Go Red For Women Editors

As women age, we lose some of our body’s natural defenses against heart disease. This can happen because of changes in hormones from menopause, which can affect your cholesterol levels. Also, type 2 diabetes usually develops in women after age 45.

Go Red For Women wants you to consider your heart health at every age. Learn what you can do to prevent heart disease in your 50s with the following advice.

Monitor changes in your body and keep an open dialogue with your doctor. 

Hormonal changes that usually take place in our late 40s and 50s make our health an even greater consideration as we age. Understand how menopause could impact your heart health and learn more about hormonal treatment therapies. Play an active role in your healthcare and work with your doctor to determine if you have any heart disease risk factors. If you are already at risk, ask your doctor how you can reduce it. 

Get heart screenings.

Regular heart screenings are important to maintaining a healthy heart. The American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol checked every five years, your blood pressure checked at least every two years, your blood glucose levels checked every three years, waist circumference checked as needed and body mass index checked during every regular healthcare visit.

Know your numbers.

Knowing the numbers that impact your heart is an important step toward healthy living. Here’s a quick overview of the numbers you need to know and your goals. Be sure to talk to your doctor to see how your current numbers measure up.

  • Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
  • HDL (good) cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides 150 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Body Mass Index less than 25 kg/m2
  • Waist circumference less than 35 in.

Watch what you eat.

If you have extra room in your schedule, take the time to learn healthy cooking tips and carefully plan healthy meals for you and your family. Choose foods low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars. Focus on including foods that are nutrient-dense like colorful veggies and fruits, fiber-rich, whole-grains, lean meats, skinless chicken and fish rich in omega-3s, and fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy. These foods can give your heart the nutrients it needs as well as improve your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Get physical.

If you haven’t been exercising, now is the time to start. Pick something that you enjoy and start slowly. Chances are, if you enjoy the type of exercise you engage in, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with it. If you’ve been exercising for a while, change up your routine every now and then so you won’t get bored. Your goal is to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes most days, if not all days of the week. Brisk walking and yoga are great activities to keep you heart healthy, or try these . You can also incorporate core strengthening exercises and exercises to increase bone density once a week, both of which diminish as we age. Still not sure you can find a way to boost your daily activity? Try these 10 tips for daily exercise.

Learn more ways to prevent heart disease on Go Red For Women.