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Heart Disease and Seniors Back
Did you know that February is National Heart Month? Now we’re not talking about all the hearts and love that accompanies Valentine’s Day, although that is wonderful! National Heart Month gives the opportunity to increase awareness about heart health, heart disease, and what you can do to better protect yourself and your loved ones from health conditions that affect the heart. Heart health needs to be a priority as we age. According to the American Heart Association, 80% of those who died from heart disease in 2016 were age 65 or older.
What is Heart Disease?
One of several cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, or simply put, heart disease is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to heart attack. Heart attacks can occur when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. Heart disease is a lifelong condition; once you get it, you will always have it. There are certain procedures such as bypass surgery that can help with blood flow to the heart, but your arteries are forever damaged which increases your chances for a heart attack in the future.
What are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?
There are several warning signs of heart disease that usually don’t manifest until you are having a heart attack. These symptoms signal an emergency and may include:
Lightheadedness or feeling weak
Difficulty catching your breath
Feeling nauseous or vomiting
Indigestion or feeling over-full
Pain or uncomfortable pressure in the chest
Unusual pains in the neck, back, or shoulders
An irregular heartbeat
What You Can Do to Keep Your Heart in Great Shape
If you have already been diagnosed with heart disease, there are measures you can take to improve your quality of life as well as reduce risk of further complications. Reducing stressful thinking and situations, eating well, stopping smoking, and increasing your exercise are all things you can begin now to help manage your symptoms. Talk with your doctor regularly and follow their orders concerning medications and lifestyle choices.
If you do not have heart disease, it’s never too late to put in the effort to keep your heart as healthy as possible. Ample exercise, smoking cessation, eating a heart-healthy diet, regularly checking blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowering alcohol intake, watching your weight, and minimizing stress in your life are all ways in which you can lower your heart disease risk and live a healthier life.
You, your loved ones, your caregivers, and your doctors are all part of the team that can keep you healthy. Age (55 or older) itself is a huge risk factor for heart disease, so take the risk seriously and begin making the needed changes in your life today to keep your heart healthy and happy.