Different heart diseases are one of the health risks that seniors face, with nearly half of American adults affected by at least one kind of ailment. And with their weaker health, seniors are at a higher risk of suffering from a fatal stroke. As such, you must know how to manage a heart condition effectively. Here is how to do it, whether you are living on your own or under home health care services.
The Kinds Of Heart Diseases That Affect Seniors
There are a wide variety of heart diseases that can affect older people. While these are distinct, they can lead to each other if untreated. That creates an even greater risk of death if not handled properly. Knowing which type of ailment you have will aid in its management.
Coronary Heart Diseases
This is the most common type of heart condition that seniors encounter. The condition happens when the arteries that supply the heart with blood get clogged by plaque deposits. It causes them to harden and become narrower. Because of this, the heart receives less oxygen and nutrients. It then gradually weakens, increasing the risk of heart failure.
Atherosclerosis is another major risk associated with coronary heart disease. It happens when the plaque blocking the arteries becomes so large that it bursts. That leads to stopped blood flow and a heart attack, which can often be fatal.
Your heart might also develop irregular beating patterns, known as arrhythmia. Here, it is beating either too fast or too slow. The former can result in high blood pressure and potential stroke. Meanwhile, a slow heartbeat could result in your body receiving less oxygen. Both these extremes can lead to life-threatening situations if left unchecked.
Also referred to as myocardial infarction, heart attacks happen when blood flow to the heart suddenly stops. That can severely damage or destroy the heart muscle and is often fatal. Heart attacks are often a result of other conditions that are left unchecked.
Heart failure is the general term that refers to a condition where your heart can’t pump blood normally. As such, your body does not get enough of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs leading to other complications. Heart failure is itself a complication of coronary heart disease. But it might also be a result of high blood pressure, thyroid disease, or other conditions.
How Seniors Can Manage Heart Conditions.
Once you have received a diagnosis from your doctors, you might be overwhelmed by the news. Do not worry, as there are still ways for you to manage these illnesses and lessen the symptoms. But you need to be ready to go through a significant lifestyle change to protect your heart health from complications.
Taking the correct medications is the first step in managing your heart condition. There are several common types of medicines that your doctor might prescribe.
- Anticoagulants: These decrease the coagulating capabilities of your blood, lessening the risk of dangerous clots building up in your blood vessels.
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: This type of medicine helps expand your blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.
- Beta-blockers: Medicines like Betaxolol and Bisoprolol slow down your heart rate, contributing to lower blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers: This medicine inhibits the movement of calcium into the heart, helping decrease its pumping strength and relax your blood vessels.
- Cholesterol-lowering medications: Cholesterol can gradually build up in the walls of blood vessels. These drugs lower the amount in your blood to prevent that.
- Digoxin: This is a specific drug that can help a weakened heart to pump blood more effectively.
- Diuretics: Such drugs flush out excess sodium and fluids from the body, ensuring that it has a balanced distribution of these. That lessens the heart’s workload.
The exact combination of drugs doctors will prescribe will depend on the specific heart condition you have. Additionally, doctors will try to lessen the side effects these have through the right combination of medicine types.
One thing you should keep in mind is that some of these drugs will be lifelong prescriptions. As such, you need to be diligent in taking them. Those living under home health care services can rely on caregivers to keep track of medicine schedules. But if you are on your own, keep a record of the time you should be taking your meds.
As has been said earlier, most heart diseases begin with the accumulation of cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels. While invasive surgery is the only way to remove those plaque deposits, you can halt the further accumulation through a switch in your diet.
The first kind of foods to stay away from are those that have too many saturated fats. You would also want to avoid eating foods that have too much salt and sugar. The latter is something you should take note of if you have also been diagnosed with diabetes, as this condition is also a major risk factor for heart ailments.
To ensure that seniors like you will be able to avoid these foods, it would be a good idea to create a weekly meal plan. Focus on adding food items that are specifically good for your heart. You would also want to plan out your meal portions to ensure that you are not overeating and gaining weight. Consulting with a dietician will help you better refine this plan to suit your specific heart condition.
Being physically active will help you maintain your heart health in a variety of ways. First up, losing some weight will relieve your heart of the pressure to pump more blood around your body. It also helps strengthen heart muscles, ensuring that they won’t buckle from the strain.
Note that you don’t have to go for very strenuous activities. Even simple things such as taking a walk and doing some household chores can give you the weekly workout that you need. There are also various exercises specifically designed for seniors. Home health care services like ours in Amavi provide physical trainers who can help you come up with low-impact activity plans.
Going through stressful situations can disrupt your heart in significant ways. Such events will increase your blood pressure and heart rate. It might also lead to anxiety, which will burden your heart even more. As such, you would want to lessen the stress that you are experiencing.
Here, you would want to identify what is causing that stress in the first place. For many seniors, this might be due to thinking about their obligations. They might worry that they would not be able to meet these due to their condition.
Once you know what your stressors are, you can do a variety of ways to reduce them, such as:
- Talking to family or friends about it
- Writing them down
- Listening to music or doing hobbies to take your mind off them.
- Taking a break from your normal routine.
Feel free to explore other ways that will help you release that tension. You should also make sure to monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and other vitals regularly to know if you are under stress.
Keep Your Heart Healthy With Our Home Health Services
Being diagnosed with a heart condition should not be a sentence for seniors. With the right management strategies, you can enjoy your life for years to come. And we at Amavi can help you with that through our home health care services.