An estimated 43.7 million people in the United States who are over the age of 59 are believed to have cardiovascular disease (CVD). That is almost 70 percent of that particular population. With more than half of all seniors having CVD, one would think it is a normal part of aging, and age does cause some changes in the cardiovascular system. Hardening of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis, may result. As blood vessels become stiffer, the walls of the heart as well as the valves become thicker. But many of the changes that occur to the heart and blood vessels are often due to lifestyle choices and not the effects of an aging body. The good news is that lifestyles can be changed.
What is CVD?
Cardiovascular disease usually refers to atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty deposits and plaques in arterial walls. This buildup leads to narrowing of the arteries and may eventually result in reduced blood flow and blocked blood vessels. When this occurs, a heart attack or stroke may be the result.
Knowing What to Look For
Narrowing of the arteries can occur with little to no warning signs. Many do not know of its presence until a heart attack or stroke ensues. It’s important that your parent obtain regular checkups in order to address these types of issues before symptoms occur. Here are a few possible signs to be aware of:
- Shortness of breath and increasing fatigue
- Pain in the chest, neck or arms
- Lightheaded, dizzy or confused
- Headaches, cold sweats, or nausea
- Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs and sometimes stomach or neck
- Difficulty performing the everyday activities of living
Should your parent exhibit some or all of these symptoms, call 9-1-1. An emergency medical response team can begin performing lifesaving measures before arriving at the hospital.
Changes in Lifestyle
Lifestyle changes can prove difficult to incorporate, particularly if your parent has been doing what they’ve been doing for 50 years of more. Consider slow and steady progress to be the best solution for lifelong change. This includes a heart-healthy diet that is low in fat and salt and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The Mediterranean Diet has proven to be successful in lowering heart disease. This diet incorporates a lifestyle that includes daily exercise (at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week), a stress-free attitude, and shared meals that provide companionship.
Help your parent check and maintain their cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure levels and if they smoke, help them find a way to quit. Smokefree 60+ is a government sponsored website that does just that.
Senior Care Provider
A senior care provider can assist your elderly parent with the everyday activities. Sometimes of more value is the companionship and care they provide that helps seniors make necessary lifestyle changes such as preparing healthy meals, accompanying your parent on walks, and providing transportation to social events.
For senior care in Southern NJ and the surrounding areas, call and talk to us at Home to Stay Healthcare Solutions (856) 321-1500.