A Seniors Guide to Heart Health
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, and this is especially true for seniors. Age is one of the risk factors for heart disease which cannot be controlled, along with family history. However, there are still many things to be done to reduce the risk of developing heart disease:
Regular Doctor Visits
Most of the changes made to reduce the risk of developing heart disease will be done individually. However, doctors and members of the senior home care support team like nurses and personal care workers continue to play a key role. Doctors screen patients for heart-related issues and make sure patients cardiovascular systems are in good working order. Prevention is the best medicine, and doctors can provide lifestyle suggestions or prescribe medication for patients with elevated blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
It is a common fact that smoking is a serious threat to the pulmonary system (lungs), but it also threatens the heart. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels and causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries which can lead to a heart attack. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood by crowding it out with carbon monoxide. Patients who need assistance with quitting should talk to their doctors to develop a smoking cessation plan.
Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. Even for people who are not overweight, poor dietary choices with food high in sodium, sugar, and trans fats increase the risk of heart disease. As we age, it is important to avoid fattening, salty, sugary, fried, and processed foods and make smart dietary choices on a daily basis instead. Diets should be rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
A lack of physical activity will lead to higher cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Those who are physically able should try to participate in some kind of exercise at least three days per week. Exercise can be as simple as walking to the grocery store, signing up for a senior fitness class, or learning a new style of dance. Patients with physical restrictions should speak with the senior home care team to come up with a unique exercise plan that gets the heart pumping.
Stress is another major risk factor for heart disease, as it causes increased blood pressure. To avoid stress, it is important to eat well and get enough sleep. Senior home care teams can teach calming techniques to help patients stay relaxed and comfortable. Stress management can help protect the heart.
As we age, it is so vital to take special care to reduce their risk of developing heart disease. With these factors in mind, most people can continue to live a healthy life even as the years pass.