Managing Heart Disease in Seniors
According to the American Heart Association, about eighty percent of people with coronary heart disease are 65 years old or older. What are the causes of heart disease? The leading causes of heart disease are congenital heart defects, high blood pressure, stress, and diabetes. Health behaviors like physical inactivity, a poor diet, smoking, and binge drinking are heart disease risks. Heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalization for adults over the age of 65 and costs the nation an estimated 32 billion a year. However, seniors who modify their lifestyle can reduce the risk of hospitalization. Here is how managing heart disease in seniors can avoid grave situations.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
It is crucial to understand the early detection of heart disease in seniors since the symptoms are hardly noticeable. This is why regular checkups with your local doctor are essential. Get in touch with your doctor right away if you feel any chest pain, pressure, or discomfort. Additionally, Inform your doctor if you have experienced the following:
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the shoulders, arms, neck, or back
- Shortness of breath when active or at rest
- Chest pain during physical activity that gets better when you rest
- Cold sweats
- Swelling in the legs
- Reduced ability to exercise
How to Manage Heart Disease
Be More Physically Active
Speak with your doctor about the type of activities that would be good for you. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. It is best to do some form of physical activity every day. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. Start with physical activities that you particularly enjoy—for example, brisk walking, dancing, bowling, bicycling, or gardening. Especially, try to avoid spending hours every day sitting or laying down. Get up and move!
Quitting smoking will benefit your heart and blood vessels. Among those diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stopping smoking dramatically reduces the risk of a recurrent heart attack and cardiovascular death. In many studies, this risk reduction has been fifty percent or more. Smoking only damages your artery walls. It is never too late to benefit from stopping smoking. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it is possible. In fact, millions of people have successfully quit smoking and remain nonsmokers. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, ask your family and friends for support in your effort to quit smoking.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Another step to managing heart disease in seniors is to have them eat a diet rich in heart-healthy foods. Try to pick foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, sugar, and salt. As we get older, we become more sensitive to salt, which can cause swelling in the legs and feet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber, like those made from whole grains. You also can find more information on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. The DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). Balancing the calories you eat and drink with the calories burned by being physically active will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Stress is one of the leading causes of heart disease. Learn how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems to improve your physical and emotional health. Consider activities such as a stress management program, meditation, physical activity, and talking things out with friends or family.
While heart disease remains the number one killer in America, more and more people are more aware of the risks and start to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle. When you begin to apply the following to your life, you will manage your heart disease or even prevent it effectively. If you are still unsure of how to go about it, speak with your doctor.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What is my risk for heart disease?
- What is my blood pressure?
- What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.) Make sure your doctor has checked a fasting blood sample to determine your cholesterol levels.
- Do I need to lose weight for my health?
- What is my blood sugar level, and does it mean that I’m at risk for diabetes?
- What other screening tests do I need to tell me if I’m at risk for heart disease and how to lower my risk?
- What can you do to help me quit smoking?
- How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?
- What’s a heart-healthy eating plan for me?
- How can I tell if I have a heart attack? If I think I’m having one, what should I do?