Why Seniors Should Be Concerned About Heart Health
Heart disease has become almost an accepted part of the aging process. As people age, the heart becomes less elastic and cannot respond as efficiently to changes in blood pressure. Artery walls thicken, blood pressure levels become dangerous, and the heart can no longer handle the increased workload. The good news is that these processes can be reversed and don’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. Seniors can improve their heart health even if they begin practicing healthy habits late in life.
Five Ways to Protect Your Heart in Your Golden Years
While heart disease remains the number one cause of death for both men and women over the age of 65 in the United States, that doesn’t mean it is inevitable. The American Heart Association recommends the following steps for heart protection in elderly people:
- Stop Smoking–One of the most important steps your elderly loved ones can take to protect themselves from heart disease is to cut out smoking. It’s never too late to quit, even if they have been smokers all their lives. As soon as a person eliminates smoking, the body will begin to recover from the ill effects of cigarettes.
- Exercise–Even modest increases in physical activity can strengthen a person’s heart and improve heart function. Talk to your family doctor about a feasible exercise plan that includes cardiovascular and strength building exercises.
- Eat Right–Reduction of body fat places less strain on the heart and enables it to perform its job more efficiently. Most heart-healthy diets include lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean meat.
- Get a Check-Up–Regular check-ups will give your loved one’s doctor the opportunity to monitor blood pressure, sugar levels, and cholesterol levels. If he or she has diabetes, it’s especially important to monitor sugar levels for optimum heart health. A doctor may also prescribe medication such as statin drugs to reduce cholesterol levels. Statin therapy can improve heart health even when implemented very late in life, so don’t neglect annual blood work.
- Reduce Alcohol Intake–More than one or two drinks a day can have adverse effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart function.
Other Benefits Seniors Receive From a Healthy Heart
Protecting your loved one from heart disease and heart attacks is a noble goal, but he or she will also receive other benefits from taking positive steps for heart health. People with healthy hearts tend to have more energy, feel stronger, report better moods and less depression, and maintain their independence longer. If you have an elderly loved one who experiences constant fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, or chest pains, see a doctor about whether those symptoms could point to an underlying heart condition. Whether heart disease symptoms are present or not, seniors can benefit from implementing heart-healthy habits into the daily routine.
Encouraging Your Loved Ones to Take Care of Their Hearts
Elderly loved ones may sometimes feel like it’s too late to begin taking care of their hearts. They may think that any possible damage has already been done and that making changes late in life won’t make that much difference. Fortunately, the truth is that heart-healthy habits can reduce your loved ones’ risk of heart disease and heart attack no matter what age they are when they begin to implement those habits. Eliminating cigarettes, eating healthy, and exercising can do wonderful things for seniors’ heart health, even if they are currently in their 70s or 80s.
If your elderly loved one struggles with being motivated to move around or if other health conditions make it difficult to remember positive health habits, an in-home caregiver can help encourage him or her to take those positive steps. Caregivers can assist with mobility and exercise, prepare healthy meals, and provide medication reminders if your elderly family member needs statin drugs or diabetes medication. It’s never too late to start making heart-healthy choices.
Photo by david_shankbone
Originally posted 2015-02-03 10:00:43.