When women, with menopause, come out of their fertile age, their cardio-vascular risk increases due to the hormonal decline, reaching the same level of men. But even for males, over the age of 50, care must be taken in preserving the health of the heart and vessels. Those who have previously followed a healthy lifestyle will not have to do anything but continue just the same, but for others the time has come to correct it: «50 years is a good time to start prevention because cardio-vascular risk begins to rise after the age of 60», says Dr Maddalena Lettino, Head of the Operational Unit of Heart Failure Cardiology at Humanitas.
Here are the steps to be taken to live healthier and to try to reduce cardio-vascular risk as much as possible:
Stop smoking. Smoking is amongst the main risk factors for heart disease. According to the WHO, the World Health Organization, the risk of coronary heart disease is halved after a year since the last cigarette smoked compared to that of a smoker; it reaches the one of a non-smoker after 15 years;
No more excesses when eating. Limiting calories and considering what you put on your plate becomes very important. It is essential to limit the consumption of red meat, specifically you should prefer “good” fats, like the one contained in salmon and sardines, white meat, and even foods rich in fibre, from legumes to cereals, accompanied by five portions of fruit and vegetables a day;
Less savoury dishes. It is better to reduce the consumption of salt in order to keep the blood pressure values within the normal ranges: pay attention to hidden salt in industrial products, check the label, and eat more fresh products. WHO suggests intake of maximum 5 grams of salt per day for adults;
No more sedentariness. A healthy life is an active life. You can start gradually and slowly try to reach the WHO-recommended thresholds: 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity of aerobic exercise every week. Exercise is also an available tool to try to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol, the one that takes away “bad” cholesterol from the arteries, if needed;
Diet and physical activity allow you to control your body weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart health: the goal is to reach 94 cm waistline: the closer you get, the better.
The exams to be done
If it has not been necessary previously, it is advisable to undergo examinations to assess the level of risk: «A lipid profile and blood glucose test – reminds Dr. Lettino – should be done at least once a year. If there is a change in the lipid profile, the doctor may advise on changes in lifestyle before thinking of other therapeutic interventions; an ecodoppler of the supra-aortic trunks may be prescribed, and a first cardiological visit can be planned with an electrocardiogram, to measure arterial pressure. In case of change in the blood glucose levels, however – the specialist concludes – further tests may be performed to diagnose a possible undiagnosed diabetes».