February is designated as American Heart Month. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we are also reminded to take care of our heart and to keep it strong and healthy. Many risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, unhealthy diet and lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
Coronary heart disease is prevalent in every age group but seniors over 65 are more prone to cardiac arrest and/or stroke. Fortunately, there are many preventive ways to keep the senior heart healthy.
7 Steps to Keep the Senior’s Heart Healthy
Watch for Symptoms and Warning Signs:
Stiffening of blood vessels is normal with aging and high systolic blood pressure is most common in older adults. Symptoms that should never be ignored are shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, discomfort in the chest, pain in the jaw or left arm, dizziness, and a persistent cough. Severe chest pain (Angina) that is mostly on the left side under the breast bone is an indication that one needs immediate medical attention. Caregivers that take care of seniors need to be alerted to these symptoms and call for medical help.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Brisk walking, basic aerobics, and stretching are good to keep flexibility and balance. Biking, swimming, jogging and hiking maintains strong heart muscle. Gardening can also provide much-needed physical activity as well as peace. Caregivers can encourage seniors to exercise and help them understand how staying healthy benefits.
Eat a Heart Healthy Diet:
Age is certainly one factor that increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A nutritious diet can improve the heart’s health drastically. Add more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes to the diet. Limit fatty food and red meat. Stay away from processed and saturated foods to avoid excess calories. Consume lean protein sources such as eggs, seafood, skinless chicken and beans. Eating fish like salmon and/or tuna also promotes heart health because of the omega-3 fatty acids in them. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Over a period of time, smoking forms plaques inside the arteries and reduces the blood flow to the heart. This increases the risk of a heart attack and sudden death. There is no better time to quit smoking than now, especially during American Heart Month. Caregivers can play a big role in motivating seniors to quit this bad habit.
Chronic stress plays a harmful effect on a person’s overall health, but especially the heart. Broken heart syndrome is directly linked to extreme stress and outburst of emotions. Managing stress is important. Learn to unplug, unwind and get detached from stressful situations. Listen to music, watch a movie or take a warm bath and delve deep into a nice book to relax and unwind.
Be Socially Active:
Apart from physical activity, social activity plays a key role in keeping the senior heart healthy. It is quite a challenge for the elderly to be socially active. One should make efforts to connect with friends or an activity group. This can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and fight depression because seniors will not feel isolated and alone.
Go for Regular Check-ups:
Go for routine check-ups to check the heart function from time to time. Check your blood pressure, and take a simple blood test to measure LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol), triglycerides and blood glucose to assess certain heart disease risk factors.
American Heart Month is federally designated to raise awareness of heart disease. First proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, it is celebrated every year in February. A perfect time to remind us to rededicate ourselves, our friends and the people around us to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle so we can live longer.
American Heart Month is also a perfect time to ensure that your aging loved ones are involved in a heart healthy lifestyle. Assured Home Nursing Services have excellent caregivers that are happy to take care of seniors with heart disease in the comfort of their own homes. Please call us at (248) 593-8134 to hear more about our services and also for a free consultation.