Show Some Love to Your Heart

Did you know that, during 2020, the leading cause of death among Americans aged 65 and over was heart disease (followed by cancer and COVID-19)?[1] Heart disease is also a major cause of disability, seriously affecting the quality of life for millions of seniors.[2] February, with Valentine’s Day occurring at its mid-point, is usually considered the month of love. It’s also American Heart Month, so February is a great time to show some love to your heart.


What Is Heart Disease?

Any disease that affects the heart’s structure or function is considered heart disease; therefore, there are several medical conditions that are classified as heart disease. In the United States, the most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, which is when plaque builds up in the arteries and limits or totally blocks blood flow. Heart rhythm disorders, when the heart beats too slow, too fast, or irregularly, are also considered heart disease.[3]


Who Is at Risk?

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, with both men and women being at nearly equal risk.[4] Your risk level is higher if you:[5]

  • Are older (age 55 or older for women or age 45 or older for men)
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Are overweight
  • Have prediabetes or diabetes
  • Are not physically active
  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol excessively
  • Have unhealthy eating behaviors
  • Have a family history of early heart disease (your father or brother was diagnosed before age 55, or your mother or sister was diagnosed before age 65)

Are There Signs or Symptoms?

Early heart disease may not be obvious, so it’s important that you have regular visits with your doctor to monitor your health. Early signs could include:[6]

  •  Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, stomach, and/or neck
  • Shortness of breath when active, at rest or while lying flat
  • Tiredness or fatigue

Unfortunately, in some cases, one of the first signs of heart disease is heart attack, so it’s important that you react quickly if you experience any signs of a heart attack. These may include:[7]

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting

If you feel a fluttering in your chest or that your heart is skipping a beat or beating too hard, you could be having a serious heart rhythm issue called arrhythmia. As we age, our risk for arrhythmia increases. While rhythm disorders are life-threatening, there are many treatment options available, so contact your doctor if you suspect you may have a rhythm disorder.


What Can You Do to Help Your Heart?

Ideally, taking good care of our hearts should start at a young age, but there are several steps you can take at any age to do your heart good.[8]

Apple-thickChoose healthy foods. You probably know that you should avoid high sodium and saturated fats, but choosing wisely also means eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need. Focus on mostly bright, colored fruits and vegetables plus some lean proteins (lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans), whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta) and low-fat dairy.[9]

shoe iconMove more, if possible. Talk to your doctor about what types of activities and how much activity make sense for you. Once you get your doctor’s approval, try to make it a habit.

scale iconMaintain a healthy weight. Discuss your weight with your doctor and ask for guidance on how best to achieve the ideal weight for you.

no smoking iconBe tobacco free. If you use e-cigarettes (also known as vaping) or any tobacco products, quitting will bless your heart (and lungs). It probably won’t be easy, so you may need to ask your doctor about options that can help. You should try to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible as well.

Glucometer icon-greenHandle your health. Some health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, put you at greater risk for serious heart issues. If you have any of these or other high-risk conditions, it’s important that you manage them effectively according to your doctor’s orders.

pill bottle icon-1Take your meds. If you have other health conditions that affect your risk for serious heart issues, your doctor has probably prescribed medications to help. It’s important that you take your medications as prescribed. And make sure all your healthcare providers are aware of all the medications you take, and don’t add any over-the-counter medications or health supplements without checking with your doctor to ensure safety.
doctor icon


Visit your doctor regularly. Regular monitoring of your health, through annual physicals and wellness visits, may help your healthcare team spot issues before they become serious concerns.


Greeting cards may wax poetic about intense affection causing hearts to pound or skip beats, but such reactions would be cause for alarm for most of us. While we all need some love in our lives, it’s important to extend those sweet sentiments to your health and to providing a little TLC to your ticker.



[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—National Center for Health Statistics. Older Persons’ Health.

[2] National Institute on Aging. Heart Health and Aging.,risk%20of%20developing%20cardiovascular%20disease

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Heart Disease.

[4] American Heart Association (2019). Cardiovascular diseases affect nearly half of American adults, statistics show.

[5] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Heart-Healthy Living.

[6] National Institute on Aging. Heart Health and Aging.

[7] American Heart Association. Warning Signs of a Heart Attack.

[8] American Heart Association (2019). 8 Things You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke.

[9] National Council on Aging (2021). Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors.


S7694_22-6785_enewsletter 2022_C Reviewed 01/31/22

Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 833-684-7267. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711).

Elixir Insurance, 8921 Canyon Falls Blvd., Suite 100, Twinsburg, OH 44087, United States


Topics: Elixir Insurance, Healthy Choices, Helpful Tips

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