How to Improve Your Heart Health at Every Age

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Your heart is one of your most important organs, and it’s time you start treating it better! The heart goes through many changes as you age, and different things become important at various times. The World Heart Federation has a Heart Age Calculator that can tell you how healthy your heart is based on statistics. Learn more about the heart at each stage of life, and what you can do to be heart-healthy!

How to Improve Heart Health by Age

Baby Hearts

A mother who exercises before the birth of her baby can help the baby’s heart develop healthily. Studies show that exercise lowers the baby’s heart rate, which is an indicator of a healthy heart. Newborn’s hearts are different from the hearts of still-developing babies. That is why premature babies sometimes have heart problems. 

Toddler Hearts

Serving your growing toddlers healthy, filling foods will help them grow into healthy kids. As a parent, you get to decide what your child eats, so now is a good time to find out what fruits and veggies they like by exposing them to lots of different healthy options. 

Child Hearts

A child’s heart is the size of a clenched fist. He or she is still growing and learning, but the routines and skills learned now will help later in life. The American Heart Association recommends that parents teach their kids about seven steps they can take to lead a healthier life and ultimately prevent heart and vascular problems later in life. These tips include playing every day for physical exercise, keeping a healthy weight and having proper blood pressure. It is also important to learn about cholesterol, why smoking is bad, eating a well-balanced diet, and about blood sugar and diabetes. 

Teenager Hearts

The teen years are an important time for growth and development. Changes happen not only physically, but also emotionally and socially. Teenagers begin to try new things, some which can damage their health in the long run. Smoking is a major factor in heart health, and about  68 percent of adults who smoke started around the age of 18,  according to the American Heart Association. Statistically, 3,900 teenagers under the age of 18 try their first cigarette every day. The most important aspect of this is parental guidance and talking to kids and teens about the dangers of smoking.

Healthy Teenager Semi-Healthy Teenager Unhealthy Teenager
Non-smoker Non-smoker Smoker
Eats a well-balanced diet Eats a semi-healthy diet Eats a poor diet
Healthy physical activity level Some physical activity No physical activity

Young Adult Hearts

Young adulthood is a prime time to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that healthy lifestyles disappear as we age, but sticking to them can lower your risk of heart problems in the future. Maintaining a healthy BMI, avoiding excess alcohol, not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet and regularly exercising are all important to start in young adulthood. A full-grown female adult heart weighs around 8 ounces, and a male heart weighs 10 ounces.

Healthy Young Adult Semi-Healthy Young Adult Unhealthy Young Adult
Maintains a healthy BMI Maintains a semi-healthy BMI Has an unhealthy BMI
Non-alcohol drinker Drinks alcohol in moderation Drinks alcohol in excess
Non-smoker  Non-smoker Smokes
Eats a well-balanced diet Eats a semi-healthy diet Eats a poor diet
Regularly exercises Sometimes exercises Never exercises

Adult Hearts

The size of an adult's heart is comparable to two clenched fists. An individual's family history is a crucial part of knowing your heart health risks. If either of your parents experienced a heart attack before the age of 55, your heart risk is much higher than normal. Ask your family members if they have cardiovascular disease, which can include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, valvular heart disease, stroke or irregular heartbeats.

Healthy Adult Semi-Healthy Adult Unhealthy Adult
Eats a well-balanced diet Eats a semi-healthy diet Eats a poor diet
Exercises regularly Sometimes exercises Never exercises
Non-smoker Non-smoker Smokes
No family history of cardiovascular disease Possible family history of cardiovascular disease Family history of cardiovascular disease
Healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels Takes medication for blood pressure or cholesterol levels High blood pressure or cholesterol levels

Middle-Aged Adult Hearts

Middle-age is when people begin thinking about heart attack and heart disease risks. Typical issues like an unhealthy diet and no exercise may result in high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Studies show that stress is also a factor in many cases of heart attacks. Individuals experiencing a lot of stress have a higher risk of heart disease as well. Adults around middle-age are still working while also dealing with young adult children and possibly aging parents. It’s important to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Healthy Middle-Aged Adult Semi-Healthy Middle-Aged Adult Unhealthy Middle-Aged Adult
Eats a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet Eats a semi-healthy diet Eats a poor diet
Exercises regularly Sometimes exercises No exercise
Non-smoker Non-smoker Smoker
Healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels Takes medication for blood pressure and cholesterol High blood pressure or cholesterol
Manages stress well Manages stress semi-well Poorly manages stress

Senior Adult Hearts

No matter your health, as you age the walls of your heart thicken, your heart rate slows and the heart muscle loses strength. Emotional stress can take a harder toll on an elderly person, often causing chest pain or fainting when sudden or traumatic occurrences cause an increase in heart rate. An aging heart is also less equipped to handle things such as illness, infection and injuries. Your family history can play a part in the development of some heart conditions. However, this is the only risk factor that cannot be controlled. A family history risk means that your mother or father experienced a heart attack before the age of 55. Smoking, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity are risk factors for heart problems in older years.

Healthy Elderly Adult Semi-Healthy Elderly Adult Unhealthy Elderly Adult
Non-smoker Non-smoker Smoker
Eats a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet Eats a semi-healthy diet Eats a poor diet
Exercises regularly Gets limited exercise No exercise
Has a healthy weight Is a little overweight Overweight or obese
Non-drinker Moderate alcohol consumption Excessive alcohol consumption

If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, or if you simply want to make better choices for your heart, trust UnityPoint Health's experts to get you on track!