February is when we turn our thoughts to the heart – Valentine’s Day, sweets for our sweeties, and, most importantly, American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially among seniors, so it’s important to know the facts.
In 1964, more than half of American deaths were the result of cardiovascular disease. The percentage has decreased, but heart disease still claims 17.3 million deaths each year. Every February is designated as American Heart Month by the federal government to encourage individuals to learn about, prevent, and address heart problems.
Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is a broad term used to describe the plethora of problems that can impair the cardiovascular system. Specific cardiac issues include but are not limited to:
- High Cholesterol
- Valve Problems
- Heart Attack
- Heart Failure
While some of these conditions are manageable with lifestyle changes and medication, others can be fatal if they are not handled properly. It is vital for seniors and caregivers to learn the signs of heart problems.
Symptoms That Need Immediate Medical Attention
Emergency treatment should be sought for these signs of heart attack and/or stroke, such as:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Upper body pain in the jaw, neck, back or arms
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Facial drooping
- Slurred speech
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired vision
Signs It Is Time to Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment
Many heart conditions can be managed with regular treatment or lifestyle changes. These conditions often present with mild symptoms. Schedule an appointment with your primary physician or cardiologist if you experience symptoms of heart disease like:
- Fluttering in the chest
- Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
- High or low blood pressure
- Ongoing fatigue
- Dizziness, fainting, or near fainting
- Difficulty breathing after exercise
- Lower body swelling
What You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease
Some types of heart disease can be prevented or the symptoms reduced significantly with lifestyle changes:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a balanced diet
- Maintain healthy weight
- Reduce stress
- Exercise regularly
Tips for Caregivers
For some people, heart disease can create fear and stress. Caregivers can offer support by remaining positive and offering solutions to reduce stress levels. Heart disease is not an immediate death sentence. A long life can be achieved through lifestyle changes in many cases, and treatment can also be a literal lifesaver.
Caregivers can also support seniors by encouraging and facilitating the lifestyle changes listed above – cook healthy meals, keep a calm, low-stress environment, and help smokers quit the habit. Consider joining your loved one for some regular exercise – it will help you just as much as it will help them!
Assisting Hands serving Columbus, OH caregivers are active supporters who can cook delicious, healthy meals according to the doctor’s instructions, keep the environment cleaned up and calm, and can join your loved one in their exercise routine by taking them for walks or making sure they make it to that aqua class at the gym! Give us a call if you need help at 614-481-4141 – we’re here for you and can get started right away. Add life to your loved one’s years and lessen your load with our expert home care professionals.
American Heart Association; WebMD; Mayo Clinic; ClearCare