Everything you Need to Know about Heart Health in Seniors

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Heart attacks, strokes, coronary heart diseases, and other kinds of heart-related problems are more common in seniors than in younger people. The National Institute on Aging of the US Department of Health and Human Services says that heart diseases are one of the major causes of death in the country. If not fatal, heart problems in seniors often lead to disability and take a toll on their overall quality of life. That is why it is very important to educate a senior about maintaining good heart health.

The Common Aging-Related Heart Problems

Seniors experience many changes in their bodies due to aging, and this includes their heart and blood vessels too. For instance, their heart becomes unable to beat as fast as it did when they were younger, especially during physical activity or when under stress. This limits the flow of blood and oxygen to the body parts, which further leads to many health complications. Below are some of the most common heart issues that are associated with aging.

  • Arteriosclerosis: Aging causes hardening or stiffness of the large arteries, leading to high blood pressure or hypertension. This can be very serious if fatty deposits start building up inside or on the walls of the arteries.
  • Atherosclerosis: Increased blood pressure due to aging can elevate the risk of developing atherosclerosis. This condition refers to the accumulation of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and around the artery walls. This hardens and narrows the arteries, leading to a limited oxygen-rich blood supply to the body.
  • Heart Failure: Plaque build-up in the coronary arteries restricts the flow of blood to the heart muscles and leads to heart disease. Gradually, the heart muscles become weak and start damaging, which results in heart failure. This is more evident in seniors with hypertension and diabetes, as well as in those who consume alcohol regularly.
  • Arrhythmia: This condition refers to improper beating of the heart, which could be irregular, too fast, or too slow. This is caused due to high blood pressure, valve disorders, or changes in the heart muscle because of the effects of aging.
  • Fluid Buildup: Seniors also experience thickening of the valves in the heart, which limits blood flow out of the heart and causes leaks. This then leads to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs or other body parts like the legs, feet, and abdomen.
  • Atrial Fibrillation: Aging leads to an enlargement of the heart chambers and thickening of the walls. This reduces the amount of blood that the heart can hold, which leads to heart rhythm problems. This condition is also linked to long-standing hypertension in seniors.

How to Maintain a Healthy Heart

The above-mentioned heart problems are very serious and can cause many complications in seniors. That is why assisted living communities focus on developing a heart-healthy lifestyle in their residents. This includes maintaining a proper and balanced diet, regularly exercising and workouts, and managing any heart-related medication appropriately.

Senior care living communities make sure that their residents get a nutritious diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. They also ensure that seniors stay away from refined carbohydrates, sugar, and sweetened beverages. Following a heart-healthy diet with unsaturated fats and limited trans fats and cholesterol intake goes a long way to reduce the risks of heart diseases.

Assisted living facilities also offer services that make sure that their residents maintain an active lifestyle, and maintain a healthy weight. This helps to keep their heart in good shape and alleviates the risks of other aging-related health conditions as well. Caregivers in assisted living facilities also monitor the blood pressure of seniors regularly, which can greatly help to take timely action to reduce the risk of heart problems.

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