Other important lifestyle changes to make include eating a heart-healthy diet, managing stress and depression, and using medications as appropriate.
Follow a low-fat, low-sodium diet. The AHA offers specific dietary guidelines for reducing the risk of heart attack:
Choose a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Limit fat intake (total fat between 25 and 35 percent of daily calories, saturated fat less than 7 percent, and trans fat less than 1 percent).
Limit cholesterol intake (less than 200 milligrams per day if LDL levels are high; less than 300 milligrams per day if they aren't).
Limit sodium (less than 1,500 milligrams per day for high blood pressure, less than 2,300 milligrams per day otherwise).
Eat dietary fiber -- 25 to 30 grams every day.
Limit alcohol consumption -- women should consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day; men no more than two.
Manage stress and depression. A person's emotional and psychological state can have a very real effect on his physical health. An important way to maintain good cardiovascular health and avoid heart attack is by minimizing stress, anger, and depression.
Encourage a social life. If an older adult lives alone, he may feel disconnected and isolated; even if he lives with someone else, sitting around the house can lead to boredom and unhappiness. Help him get out, make new friends, or simply engage in stimulating activities. A local place of worship or community center is an excellent place to connect with other people in his age group.
Keep an eye on his mood. Perhaps he's already a social butterfly but still seems to be having difficulty with stress or depression. Try these stress-busting strategies:- Cut back on caffeinated beverages and alcohol.- Try meditation or yoga.- Play relaxing music.- Go for a walk outdoors.
See his doctor. If he has tried everything and still struggles with his mood, he should talk to his doctor. Depression is a serious but treatable illness.
Stephanie Trelogan is Senior Editor of the Heart, Stroke, and Depression channels. Older people in Stephanie's family have coped with a variety of stroke- and heart-related conditions, and several family membersincluding Stephaniehave struggled with depression.