By: Jennifer Sanfilippo

Cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke) is one of the most common health problems facing senior citizens. Although no one has control over the genetic aspect of developing such illnesses, a few simple lifestyle choices can significantly reduce some of the risks.

Exercise decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol levels and improving circulation. It is best to exercise 30 minutes three to four times per week. However, studies have shown that walking as little as an hour a week cuts the risk of heart disease in half for women. Physical activity also reduces the rate of bone loss and risk of fractures in women with osteoporosis.

Eating small meals loaded with fruits and vegetables throughout the day helps optimize health. Omega-3 fatty acids from both fish and flavonoids (found in many fruits and vegetables) are very helpful in the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

If you still smoke, please stop. Studies have shown that within one day of quitting, there is a significant decrease in cardiovascular risk and it improves the longer you refrain from smoking.

It is important to schedule regular checkups with your doctor or visit WNY Medical, conveniently located in Amherst (923-4380), Cheektowaga (681-9000), and South Buffalo (882-8989).

When visiting, make sure your doctor checks blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. Also ask about screening for prostate, breast and bowel cancer. If you or your family has a history of heart disease, ask whether a daily aspirin would be beneficial for you.

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