Preventing Heart Attacks in Older Adults

heart disease prevention

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and people aged 65 or older are more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.

Age-related changes can increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease, which can limit their daily activities and quality of life. Fortunately, you and your loved ones can take steps to delay, reduce, or even reverse these changes.

How Does the Heart Change With Age?

Aging can affect the heart and blood vessels and blood vessels in several ways. For example, the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries over time is a leading cause of heart disease.

The most common heart-related aging change is hardening of the arteries, medically known as arteriosclerosis. This condition causes high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart attacks and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

The coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Heart disease develops when plaque builds up in these arteries, reducing blood flow and weakening the heart muscle. Other factors contributing to heart damage include untreated high blood pressure, smoking, and alcohol use.

Signs of Heart Disease

In its earliest stages, heart disease may have only mild or barely noticeable symptoms. Your loved one should contact their doctor right away if they feel chest pain, pressure, or discomfort.

Other warning signs of heart disease and heart attacks include:

  • Pain, numbness, and tingling in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath even at rest
  • Chest pain during physical activity
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, stomach, or neck
  • Discomfort or weakness when doing daily activities
  • Arrhythmia

How to Improve Heart Health

You and your loved one can reduce the risk of heart disease with some simple lifestyle changes.

1. Get Physically Active

Like any muscle, the heart gets stronger and more resilient with exercise. While 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity daily exercise is ideal, people who aren’t physically active can start small – even a 10-minute walk around the block can get the heart rate up and improve circulation.

2. Quit Smoking and Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals that can narrow the blood vessels and lead to many cardiovascular conditions. Swelling and inflammation starve the heart muscle of oxygen, which can eventually cause a heart attack. Thousands of nonsmokers die from coronary heart disease every year from exposure to secondhand smoke, so it’s also critical to avoid places where people smoke or vape.

3. Lose Weight

Attaining and maintaining a healthy goal weight is achievable with a consistent exercise routine and a balanced diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods like fresh produce and lean protein. Antioxidants such as those found in fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts are a significant part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

4. Destress

The body responds to stress in multiple ways, including high blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Unmanaged chronic stress can take a toll on anyone’s health, expressing itself in physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Destressing activities include yoga, meditation, and other self-care strategies like massage.

Personalized Care for Heart Disease

At Legacy Homecare LA, we believe older adults deserve compassion, dignity, and respect – regardless of the health challenges they face. We create heart disease care plans that include continuous monitoring, medication reminders, daily fitness activities to promote an active lifestyle, and helping with daily tasks such as healthy meal prep. For your peace of mind, our skilled home care workers are available around the clock.

Our commitment to our staff and clients sets us apart as a leading home care provider. We require our Care Companions to complete rigorous training from the country’s top programs to provide the specialized services your loved one needs. To learn more about what we offer and how we can benefit your family, reach out to us today.

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