New heart health guidelines focus on diet, exercise

Many different factors contribute to healthy aging, but success rests heavily on seniors' ability to avoid heart disease and stroke. Most older adults recognize that physical activity and diet are two of the most important aspects of a heart healthy lifestyle, and new guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology shed some light on new approaches to preventing cardiovascular issues.

The new guidelines are meant to instruct doctors on how to recommend a heart healthy lifestyle to their patients. Among the revisions is one that encourages physicians to stress the importance of a healthy diet in place of recommending the occasional indulgence. Additionally, the AHA and ACC say that just 40 minutes of moderate aerobic activity three to four days a week could be enough to avoid heart disease and stroke.

"These new guidelines represent the best of what scientific research can tell us about how to prevent heart disease and stroke," said American Heart Association president Dr. Mariell Jessup. "These recommendations will help guide the clinical decisions doctors make every day to protect their patients from two of the nation's biggest killers."

Ever year, an estimated 600,000 people die each year from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which makes it the leading cause of death in the U.S. Stroke is not far behind, however. Approximately 795,000 people each year have a stroke, with around 130,000 of them passing away as a result. Even for the patients who survive, stroke is often the cause of additional health issues ranging from mobility problems to depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.