While having a big heart may be a compliment to some, it’s one of the many problems that one can develop as they age. Heart problems affect people of every age, indicated in the fact that nearly 14 million men and women in the US are coping with chronic heart disease. Yet, seniors are most at risk and most commonly the patients of heart disease care.
Much like the body, the heart ages — the muscles relax and therefore beat slower, the ventricles get stiffer and thus work less efficiently and it doesn’t pump as forcefully as it once did. While these changes and others may be less noticeable than physical ailments associated with aging, they can appear in the form of:
Atherosclerosis aka Coronary Artery Disease – Coronary Artery Disease is a condition that occurs due to a buildup of plaque along the artery walls of the heart. This results in a reduced amount of blood flow to the heart and brain. In the elderly especially, atherosclerosis may amplify the inefficiencies of an already weak heart. Unfortunately, patients show no symptoms until it’s too late, when the plaque ruptures or the buildup reaches dangerous levels, blocking blood flow. There are ways to ward off this condition; treatments can include medications, medical procedures, exercise and a healthy diet.
Hypertension aka High Blood Pressure – Caused by an excessive amount of pressure on the artery walls by a high concentration of blood and narrow arteries, hypertension affects more than half of all seniors. It develops gradually over time and can accelerate the onset of other health conditions, such as strokes, kidney damage and heart disease. However, this easily detectable condition is also easily counteracted — you or a loved one can decrease their risk of high blood pressure by lowering salt intake, exercising more often, quitting smoking or losing excess weight. Doctors are also able to prescribe medication in the event nonmedical actions are insufficient. Like Coronary Artery Disease, hypertension is often symptomless.
Myocardial Infarction aka Heart Attack – Myocardial infarction affects approximately 735,000 Americans annually. Heart attacks are a result of a blockage near the heart, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the muscle. A period without oxygenated blood, however short, can cause damage or death to the heart. While the pain may only last for a few minutes, it can be exacerbated by physical activity or emotional stress, and it won’t disappear with rest. If you or a loved one feel the following symptoms, these are signs of a heart attack and should be responded to immediately:
- Pain or pressure in the chest, particularly toward the heart’s side of the body
- Neck, jawline, back, stomach or arm pain or pressure, especially on the left
- Shortness of breath
- Unusually sweaty or clammy
- Nausea or vomiting
Stroke – Much like a heart attack, a stroke is a result of blood-flow blockage, this time to the brain. The brain tissue needs the oxygen and nutrients the blood provides. Within minutes, brain cells begin to decay and even die. According to NIHSeniorHealth, one American dies from a stroke every four minutes, three-quarters of whom are seniors. Every minute the brain is without oxygen can be detrimental. If you or a loved one experience the immediate onset of these symptoms, seek urgent attention:
- Weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Eyesight issues
- Difficulty walking
- Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- A severe headache
Before the symptoms begin, employ the assistance of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Home Health Aide (HHA) to help manage the health of you or a loved one. Granny NANNIES carefully screens the CNAs and HHAs referred to you or your loved ones to ensure they have the credentials, compassion and respect necessary to provide care to others. They can introduce precautionary lifestyle changes such as preparing healthy meals, encouraging daily exercise and managing stress.
If a doctor noticed any of the precursory signs above and you or a loved one are in need of preventative assistance, the CNAs and HHAs referred by Granny NANNIES can help. They provide assistance in instituting the lifestyle changes mentioned above, as well as supervision, should anything occur.
If you or a loved one has already suffered from a heart-related medical issue, the CNAs and HHAs are trained to provide the special care required and can do so in the privacy and comfort of home. Alongside dietary modifications and other preventative actions, CNAs and HHAs assist in routine, daily activities such as personal care, as well as with monitoring blood pressure or swelling and other physical and cognitive risk factors of another incidence.