Boomers and beyond: A 5-step action plan for keeping your heart healthy

Boomers and beyond: A 5-step action plan for keeping your heart healthy

(BPT) – More baby boomers and older adults are taking a proactive approach to heart health. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle in your golden years and dealing with any type of diagnosis head-on is the smart way to keep your heart pumping strong for many years to come. Following these five easy steps can help you take control.

1. Exercise your heart by staying active.
Increasing your heart rate through daily exercise can help keep your heart healthy and help you live longer. Good heart-healthy activities include walking, swimming and bicycling. Stay motivated by exercising with a friend.

2. Eat heart-healthy foods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are fantastic for heart health – make it your goal to eat a variety of colors every day. Whole grains and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good choices also.

3. Consult your doctor about heart-healthy supplements.
As we age, sometimes our bodies can’t absorb vitamins and minerals as well as when we were younger. Many people take vitamin D and a low-dose aspirin daily once they hit their 50s or 60s. Ask your doctor for recommendations.

4. Schedule your annual physical.
An annual physical is the cornerstone of preventative care. At your appointment, make sure you get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Have your doctor explain what those numbers mean for you.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
No matter what, when it comes to the health of your heart, ask questions. If you are diagnosed with a slow heartbeat and need a pacemaker, talk with your doctor about your options and determine if a pacemaker that is approved for use in an MRI may be right for you.

Marilyn Rose of Richardson, Texas, ate healthy, exercised regularly and scheduled yearly physicals, but at age 80 she frequently felt tired and short of breath. Rose was scheduled for an echocardiogram, a heart test that allows the doctor to see the movement of the heart, and it was then that she learned she had a condition called bradycardia, or a slow heartbeat. Rose needed a pacemaker to help her live a full life, but she learned that historically, pacemakers have not been approved in the U.S. for use with MRIs. She was concerned – she knew at her age the likelihood that she might need an MRI at some point was high.

After talking with her doctor and asking plenty of questions, Rose learned that the FDA had approved the first pacemaker that was fit for use in the MRI environment. Today, after getting her pacemaker, she’s feeling great and is back to her regular life, swimming, knitting and playing with her five grandkids. Her friends call her the “Energizer bunny,” and with her pacemaker she says she feels better than she did before. For Rose, asking the right questions made a life-changing difference.

Rose’s story is just one example of how the decisions you make today can impact your health tomorrow. She is now part of an educational campaign called “Join the Pace Makers,” because she wants to share her experience and help inform others about heart health and their options when it comes to choosing a pacemaker.

Whether you want to take on your golden years with a heart-healthy outlook, or you are a child of aging parents and you want them to live a long, full life, these tips can help you reach your goals. If you know someone who needs a pacemaker, you have an opportunity to make a difference. Learn more and become a Pace Maker at