Heart disease can sound like a scary diagnosis. But it doesn’t mean that a senior should give up hope of retaining their quality of life. While heart disease indicates that the heart can’t efficiently supply the body with oxygen-rich blood, there are many things that seniors with the condition can to manage the condition and continue their lifestyle. In this post, we will explore how heart disease can affect a senior and what they can do to manage their condition.
Heart Disease Overview
Let’s start with diving deeper into what heart disease actually is. Heart disease is an umbrella term for heart problems, like coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, and congenital heart defects. All of these conditions are characterized by the fact that the heart and circulatory system is not working efficiently to deliver blood throughout the body.
Heart disease can be a result of plaque building up in the arteries, mixed electrical impulses that cause irregular heartbeats, lack of sufficient blood flow to the heart muscle itself, and other factors.
You may hear the term “heart disease” used interchangeably with “cardiovascular disease.” However, cardiovascular disease is actually a subset of heart disease. Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that involve narrow or blocked blood vessels, while heart disease is an overall term that refers to cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions that affect the muscles and rhythm of the heart too.
Heart disease is actually the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, making it an important condition for families and caregivers to be aware of.
Because heart disease makes up a range of conditions, the symptoms vary. However, below are some general symptoms that seniors with heart disease may experience:
Shortness of breath
Changes in heart rate
These symptoms may interfere with a senior’s ability to perform daily tasks, but they can often be treated or managed.
Managing Heart Disease
It is important for seniors with heart disease to make modifications to their lifestyle to ensure that their heart can remain as healthy as possible.
Watch What You Eat
Seniors with heart disease need to focus on heart-healthy foods. Particularly, seniors should look to reduce unhealthy fats, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in the blood. Unhealthy fats include trans and saturated fats. These fats can be found in butter, shortening, margarine, etc.
Seniors should also choose whole grains, which can help regulate blood pressure. Instead of selecting their favorite white bread, seniors should choose a whole-grain bread instead. They should also look for cereals, rice, and pasta that are whole grain and packed with fiber.
If you’re struggling to keep your heart healthy, you should also reduce your sodium intake. Sodium can raise blood pressure and be harmful to the heart. But salt is commonly used in recipes—even sweet treats! Replace salt with other spices and herbs when possible. And read nutrition labels on items at the grocery store to avoid foods that are high in salt.
One final note about food is to make sure you are watching your portions. It doesn’t matter if you are eating the right foods in the wrong proportions. Try to maintain balanced portions to get all the nutrients that your body and your heart need.
While you may not think you should exercise if you have heart disease, exercise can actually help you manage your condition. Exercise can help you manage your weight, strengthen the heart, and boost your mood. It can also help you improve circulation.
Seniors with heart disease should try to perform moderate aerobic exercises to help keep their body conditioned. These exercises could include jogging, biking, or water aerobics. Seniors may also want to try stretching and exercises that focus on balance, like yoga or tai chi.
You should always check with your doctor before performing a new exercise routine. And you should pay attention to the signs that your body gives you as you exercise. You don’t want to push your heart too far.
Stress can cause strain on the heart, impact a senior’s memory, and cause other health complications. If you feel stressed or anxious, your heart can beat faster and blood pressure can increase. Seniors with heart disease should limit stressful situations as much as possible in order to keep their heart healthy.
If you feel stressed, try engaging in a relaxing activity that you enjoy — reading, walking, watching a movie, taking a bubble bath, meditating, etc. These activities can help you maintain your heart rate and handle stress in a healthy manner.
Manage Other Chronic Conditions
There are many other health conditions that can lead to heart disease. These conditions could include obesity, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. Seniors with heart disease should strive to manage their other health conditions to avoid exacerbating their heart disease.
Generally, seniors should:
Avoid or limit caffeine intake
Get a full night’s rest
Maintain cholesterol and blood sugar levels
Receive annual vaccinations
Seniors who have been diagnosed with one type of heart disease should also manage that condition to help avoid developing another type of heart disease. Many of the heart disease conditions are related and an individual can have several of them at a time.
Specialized Care for Heart Disease
Even with these lifestyle changes, seniors may struggle to manage their heart disease. That's when professional help can come in. Seniors can rely on in-home caregivers to help them complete tasks of daily living and continue their normal routine. Caregivers can help with personal care, meal preparation, transportation, and more to empower seniors to age in place.
At Caring Senior Service, our caregivers are trained to help seniors maintain their heart health. They can help you or an aging loved one maintain your independence while remaining happy, healthy, and at home.