The heart is the powerhouse of the body. As it pumps blood throughout your veins, it delivers needed oxygen to your cells. However, your circulatory system becomes less efficient as you age. These changes make seniors more vulnerable to develop heart conditions. That's why it becomes increasingly important to monitor heart health at home as you get older. Let's review some of the top reasons to monitor heart health along with some things you can do to keep tabs on your ticker.
Why Monitor Heart Health
- Determine general wellbeing. Measuring your heart health can give you a general indication of how healthy you are. Simple measurements like blood pressure and cholesterol levels give you a snapshot of what's going on internally and help you make adjustments to your lifestyle as needed.
- Check for heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. This term actually refers to several conditions that affect the heart's ability to pump effectively. As you monitor your heart health, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing heart disease or to help you manage your condition if you have heart disease.
- Detect other underlying health problems. Monitoring your heart health can also help you and your healthcare team detect any other underlying problems. For example, high blood pressure could be a sign of hormone problems or diabetes.
How To Monitor Heart Health
Measure Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is how much pressure is applied to the arteries when your heart beats. There are actually 2 different measurements in your blood pressure. The first and higher number is the systolic pressure, which refers to the pressure after the heart contracts. The second and lower number is the diastolic pressure, which refers to the blood pressure before the heart contracts.
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Normal blood pressure is categorized by 120/80 mm HG and less. Blood pressure levels that are higher than that are considered elevated or hypertension, generally known as high blood pressure. Usually high blood pressure is more of a risk to seniors, but some may suffer from low blood pressure as well.
Watch the video below to learn how to measure blood pressure at home.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
If you notice regular measurements of high blood pressure, you should see your doctor. If you have underlying health conditions, high blood pressure can exacerbate symptoms. It can also put you at higher risk of developing chronic conditions, like heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. So, it's best to get your blood pressure under control as soon as you can.
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Your pulse, or heart rate, measures each heartbeat. You can determine how fast or slow the heart beats in 1 minute. A normal rate for the elderly is 60 to 100 beats per minute. This rate is the number of times your heart beats when you are calm and relaxed. It’s referred to as the resting heart rate.
Seniors can check their pulse by feeling the blood pump through veins in the wrist, inside of the elbow, side of the neck, or top of the foot. For an accurate reading, count the number of beats in a whole minute. You can also measure the pulse within a given set of time, like 10 or 20 seconds. Them multiply the rate appropriately to determine how many beats per minute.
You can also use an electronic device to measure your pulse. Usually, you wear the pulse monitor around the wrist. An electronic device can give you and your doctor insight into your pulse rate throughout the day instead of just a glimpse at one moment in time.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Your pulse is a basic measurement of how much your heart is working. If your pulse is too fast, it is a sign that the heart is working too hard. This could be due to medications, exercise, emotions, or other factors. However, it could also be a sign of a serious heart condition.
As you check your pulse, also make sure that the beats are steady and regular. If you notice an irregular pattern, this could be a sign of an arrhythmia. Many arrhythmias are harmless, but some can be dangerous and lead to heart complications or even heart attacks. See your doctor if you notice a fast pulse or irregular beats.
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Watch Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol refers to a fat-like substance that the body produces and that is also found in the foods you eat. This substance is good for you in proper amounts. It helps the body create new cells and produce hormones. However, too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease. As cholesterol raises above normal levels, it can build up on the sides of the arteries. Therefore, the arteries become narrower and can easily be blocked. The cholesterol levels can make your heart inefficient at delivering oxygen throughout your body.
High cholesterol levels, however, don’t have any symptoms. That means many individuals have high cholesterol without even knowing. A doctor can perform a blood test to measure the levels of cholesterol in the blood and help you determine if your cholesterol levels are within normal ranges.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Consistently high cholesterol levels are a sign that areas in your arteries are narrowing due to the buildup of cholesterol. As a result, your heart could be working harder to supply oxygen to the body. It can also lead to heart disease. You may need to start implementing lifestyle changes to help you manage your cholesterol.
If you or a loved one has existing heart conditions and needs assistance with your daily routine, reach out to our care experts near you! Our team is specially trained to assist seniors with congestive heart failure and other health challenges. We can help you monitor heart health at home and make positive lifestyle changes to manage your condition. Get in touch today!