Recognizing the Signs of Heart Disease in Seniors
How to Prevent Heart Disease in Older Adults
This winter, McGregor is tackling the ten most common health issues related to aging for Cleveland seniors. If you are visiting our blog for the first time, you may want to read our past posts on cognitive decline, trouble with balance, and oral health concerns. Be sure to check back regularly to read future posts from McGregor that will help you better understand the signs of common senior health issues and help your loved one navigate the next steps. According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors over the age of 65 are more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or develop coronary heart disease. And every year, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease—that equates to one in every four deaths. Both seniors and their caregivers should be aware of the very real concern of heart disease and the steps they can take to prevent the disease.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease, caused by atherosclerosis, is the buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries. This buildup can occur over a period of many years, often without any physical symptoms until the disease has significantly progressed. Because of this, regular checkups with a doctor—and regular blood pressure screenings—are key to diagnosing the signs of heart disease early on. For example, a senior may feel fine but still have very high blood pressure.
Are there symptoms of heart disease?
As the disease progresses, physical symptoms, such as acute chest pain, are less likely. However, if a senior is complaining or experiencing any of the following, they should see their health care professional as soon as possible:
- Shortness of breath during activity, while lying down, or at rest
- Chest pain during physical activity
- Cold sweats
- Fatigue on exertion
- Swollen legs, ankles, and feet
- Unable to exercise
- Rapid heartbeat
- Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in legs or arms
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back
Can you prevent heart disease?
There are steps you can take to help seniors promote their overall physical health, including the prevention of heart disease.
- Check their blood pressure regularly.
- Visit their primary care physician for regular wellness checks.
- Be more physically active (aim for 150 minutes per week).
- Reduce the hours of time spent sitting each day.
- Quit smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet.
- Limit alcohol.
For guidance in terms of diet and alcohol limits, we recommend taking advantage of resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Institute on Aging. Here are a few to get you started:
- The DASH Eating Plan
- USDA Food Patterns
- Meal Planning Tips for Older Adults
- Blood Pressure Management for Seniors
When a senior visits their doctor, you can help guide them in asking the right questions about their specific risk for heart disease and also express interest in other screening tests to get a more comprehensive picture of your loved one’s health.
McGregor Promotes Seniors’ Health and Wellness
Helping Seniors Prevent Heart Disease and Other Health Concerns
At McGregor Assisted Living, we provide our seniors with a safe, comfortable environment that promotes their overall health and provides opportunities for them to stay active, follow a healthy diet, and receive regular medical care and health screenings that can help to prevent or minimize the effects of heart disease. Our team is here to answer any and all questions you have and share more about our living options for seniors.