"As a home care provider, heart disease is a critical issue not just for the seniors we care for but for seniors everywhere. Heart disease is the biggest mass murderer in America, killing more than 600,000 Americans each year. In fact, 84 percent of people age 65 and older die from heart disease. But according to the World Health Organization, an astounding 80 percent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. Though the risk of heart disease increases with age, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of growing older.
Know the Symptoms of Heart Disease
"Often, the warning signs of heart disease don’t appear until they cause a heart attack. Being
prepared for a heart attack is essential: early treatment is essential for successful healing.
Despite that, the majority of heart attack victims don’t seek help for two hours after symptoms begin. Protect yourself and your loved ones by knowing the signs of a heart attack:
* Pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes
* Pain that extends from your chest to your shoulder, arm, back or teeth and jaw
* Chest pain episodes that increase in severity
* Pain in the upper abdomen.
* Shortness of breath
* An impending sense of doom
* Nausea and vomiting
In women, additional symptoms may include:
* Heartburn or abdominal pain
* Clammy skin
* Lightheadedness or dizziness
* Unexplained fatigue
How to Prevent Heart Disease
"Don’t wait until you or a family member has a heart attack to worry about heart health. The right lifestyle changes will significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Get started with these top tips:
1) Eat Better. Every week, it seems like the media reports contradicting advice on what to eat to keep your heart healthy. So stop watching the headlines and start following simple guidelines from trusted experts like the American Heart Association, which suggests eating a variety of nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, unrefined whole grains, and fish, and cutting back on nutrient-poor foods high in fat, cholesterol and salt.
2) Exercise more. 30 minutes a day, most days of the week will help keep your heart in prime pumping shape. If this number seems daunting, start small: two 15-minute brisk walks a day will bring you up to the correct total. Remember that walking the dog, gardening, and cleaning the house all work out your heart too. Find ways to stay active that are fun and engaging, and it will be easier to make them habits.
3) Don’t smoke. According to the CDC, smoking increases your risk of stroke and heart disease by two to four times. Any amount of smoking can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of a heart attack. The good news is that, when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just a year. So quit now, and your heart will thank you!
4) Stay at a healthy weight. Extra pounds around your middle can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes -- all conditions that increase your chances of heart disease. But how do you know if your weight is putting you at risk? According to the Mayo Clinic, men are considered overweight if their waist measures more than 40 inches. Women are considered overweight if their waist measured more than 35 inches.
5) Get regular health screenings. If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, your heart may be accumulating damage as you read this. If you don’t know whether you have these conditions, the damage can occur without you having any idea. But if you’re aware of a risky condition, you can work with your doctor to make changes -- with medication or in your lifestyle-- to get a handle on your heart health and lower your risk. All regular heart health screening tests should begin at age 20, except blood glucose measurements, which should begin at age 40.
"Take steps now to educate yourself about heart disease and how to prevent it, and you can take big steps toward staving off this killer. With the right diet and lifestyle, you or those you care for can truly enjoy their Golden Years."
I hope this information is useful to my readers. I welcome serious guest posts to this blog that provide meaningful data for seniors without undue commercialization. Let me know with your comments how you feel about this.
Robert Tell, Author
Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal