Older Adults Can Lower Risk of Heart Disease

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ICAA provides resources as wellness professionals prepare for Heart Month

Heart disease is a particular concern as we age

February is Heart Month, a good time to remember that cardiovascular diseases are still the leading cause of death in the United States (American Heart Association) and Canada (Heart & Stroke Foundation). Cardiovascular diseases include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and congenital cardiovascular defects.

How do you reduce the risk of heart disease? Physical activity, healthy eating, maintaining or losing weight and not smoking are the answers. These lifestyle choices are free and attainable, and fend off heart disease along with diabetes and obesity.

"Heart disease is a particular concern as we age," points out Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). "About one-third of adults ages 45 to 54 have cardiovascular disease (1). People ages 65 and older account for more than 83% of deaths from cardiovascular disease (2). If we get older and gain weight, stop moving and allow stress to take over, then we're more likely to risk heart disease.

"The good news is you can lower the risks of heart disease at any age. And you can find plenty of support for lifestyle changes at seniors centers and fitness and wellness centers."

As part of the annual ICAA/Philips Heart Month campaign, a new web site has been launched to give ICAA members tools to bring the Heart Month messages to their local areas. The site includes content from Philips Medical Systems (http://www.philips.com/heartstart), provider of HeartStart Defibrillators, which are used to provide treatment for sudden cardiac arrest.

Older adults can look for special classes and information sheets that can introduce them (and their families) to prevention steps they can start tomorrow:

1. Walk every day, starting with only 5 minutes and increasing by 5 minutes every week.

2. Choose more vegetables and fruit at the market.

3. Look for an age-friendly wellness center or personal trainer (http://www.icaa.cc/facilitylocator.htm).

The ICAA Heart Month web site at http://www.icaa.cc/heartmonth.htm is available to anyone who is interested in finding tools to inform elders about heart disease. Access is free and does not require registration. The Heart Month toolkit includes links to resources for planning and executing a campaign to reach elders, lifestyle messages that lead to change, consumer education materials, lesson plans, free downloadable posters and organizations that are sources of more information.

Of special note are the visual resources for a Valentine's Day campaign, including postcards, posters and invitations to encourage people to become more physically active. The materials are available as a free download.

By joining with the many organizations that promote physical activity, healthy eating and smoking cessation during Heart Month, ICAA members are ready to help older adults reduce the risks of heart disease.

1. American Heart Association, Fact Sheet: Baby Boomers and Cardiovascular Diseases--Statistics

2. American Heart Association, Fact Sheet: Older Americans and Cardiovascular Diseases--Statistics

About the International Council on Active Aging

http://www.icaa.cc

The ICAA is the world's largest membership association dedicated to changing the way we age by uniting and working with professionals in the retirement, assisted living, recreation, fitness, rehabilitation and wellness fields. We connect a community of like-minded professionals who share the goals of changing society's perceptions of aging and improving the quality of life for Baby Boomers and older adults within the six dimensions of wellness (emotional, vocational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social).

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