The heart is the central organ of our circulatory system. It is mainly responsible for pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body. It distributes the nutrients the body needs to function, controls the flow rate, and maintains blood pressure. Even small abnormalities in the heart can cause huge, dramatic effects on the health of the body.
As we age, normal heart function naturally declines. Aging causes the heart and the blood vessels to stiffen and these changes create various cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart failure. Heart disease is another health condition and health concern for many seniors as it is a major cause of death worldwide. That would concern anybody!
Maintaining regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet for good heart health is imperative. These preventive measures can help keep high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke at bay, if not prevent them completely.
Treating cardiovascular health conditions once they’ve set in is not easy, as many co-existing conditions may complicate health. Frailty and multiple medications are just two common issues that can arise and intervene with optimal treatment and recovery.
The changes that occur in the heart and the blood vessels due to aging make elderly people more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases. One major cause of heart disease is the buildup of fats within the arteries. This can harden the arterial wall, a condition known as arteriosclerosis, and cause hypertension (high blood pressure).
This buildup of plaque within the arterial wall causes the arteries to stiffen and harden over time, limiting the flow of oxygen and blood nutrients to vital organs in the body. Oxygen that should reach the heart muscle becomes significantly reduced when the arteries become hardened and cause heart problems and disease. The most common heart diseases in seniors are high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmia, and stroke.
Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease
Heart disease during its early stages doesn’t often come with noticeable symptoms. However, natural preventive measures and regular check-ups with the doctor are important in maintaining a healthy heart.
Chest pain or any pressure or discomfort in the chest can lead many to worry if a heart condition develops. However, it is not the most common symptom of heart disease. Here are the most common symptoms or signs of heart disease or condition.
- Sensations felt in the shoulders, neck, jaw, arms, or back. It may feel painful or numb or give a tingling sensation.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain after physical activity.
- Confusion, dizziness or light-headedness.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Fatigue or tiredness.
- Cold sweats.
- Swelling in the legs, feet, ankles, stomach, or neck.
- Challenges while performing daily activities.
- Inability to exercise or get physically active.
Ways to Prevent Heart Disease
The natural process of aging may predispose us to develop heart conditions. Still, there are natural preventive measures that can help maintain a healthy heart and delay, if not completely preventing heart disease.
Smoking is one of the top causes of death, so why not stop? It is not only addictive and damaging to your lungs, and to the lungs of people closest to you, but it destroys your arterial wall and puts you at risk of heart disease.
Drink Moderately or Preferably Not At All
Alcohol, in moderate amounts, is said to be okay, but excessive drinking can put your health at risk as alcohol can disrupt your entire cardiovascular system. Alcohol may temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate, affecting your heart, whether in moderation or not. It is not advisable to drink alcohol if you are at an increased risk of heart disease.
Keep Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol Levels Under Control
You can prevent or take care of all three of these health conditions with the right lifestyle changes. However, follow your doctor’s advice and if necessary take your prescribed medications to help you manage them.
Be Physically Active
Regular exercise is the best way to delay and prevent the natural changes that occur in the heart. Physical activity helps mitigate the damage plaque buildup causes in the arteries by improving the muscle’s ability to receive oxygenated blood. It helps the heart to pump a lesser amount of blood to the muscles.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Another preventive measure to keep a healthy heart is to be mindful of maintaining a healthy diet. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and keeping a nutritious, heart-healthy diet can go a long way in preventing and delaying heart conditions.
Your lifestyle can contribute greatly to the development of any heart condition. High amounts of stress will hasten the development of any disease. Dis-stress causes dis-ease. Even though stress is inevitable, finding healthy ways to manage it and lessen it with relaxation techniques will effectively help you cope.
Heart disease may be prevented if a healthy lifestyle is adhered to. The lifestyle changes include diet, sleep, and exercise. It’s not too hard to prolong your life if you are prepared to do what it takes.