Nurse practitioner Emily Labonte shares helpful things to keep in mind for maintaining heart health overall and for seniors.

What is a good heart healthy diet? 
You should eat more fruits and vegetables, limit unhealthy fats, select whole grains, and choose low-fat protein sources.

Also, sugary drinks contain unneeded calories and are the number one source of added sugars in our diet. Choose water when possible, instead.

What is the recommended amount of cardiovascular activity per week?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or try for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity. Also, you can do an equivalent combination each week.

What are other tips for seniors for maintaining a healthy heart?
Know your health history. Your family history may hold important clues about your level of risk, and you should discuss these factors with your primary care provider.

Take your medications as directed: When patients with chronic conditions, such as heart disease, do not take their medications as directed, the repercussion can be severe.
Practice good dental hygiene: The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. And don’t forget your gums – flossing is important.

Get enough sleep: Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Manage stress levels: Psychological fears can contribute to cardiac risk, so it’s important to manage your stress levels by getting enough sleep, exercising and learning relaxation techniques.

Finally, celebrate the wins. Take a moment each day to reflect on and acknowledge the good things in your life. If you are angry or upset, this can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.

For specialized primary care for seniors, choose Intermountain’s myGeneration Clinics.

Intermountain is accepting new patients at more than 30 locations. The Medicare annual enrollment period is a great time to evaluate your primary care provider team in addition to your insurance coverage to ensure that you have the best care for the year ahead.