February is American Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease, which is the number one leading cause of death in the United States. The human heart is mainly made up of muscle that beats 24/7. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime. The average human heart also pumps 2000 gallons of blood a day. Aging is a risk for all kinds of heart problems.
Aging is a risk for Heart Disease
Aging is a risk for heart disease and can cause the following disease conditions:
Arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis is more commonly known as “hardening of the arteries,” that is caused by a buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries. This can lead to a narrowing of the arteries, which forces the heart to work harder and this raises blood pressure. In fact, the plaque can build up to the point where it causes an obstruction to the blood flow leading to the heart and this causes a heart attack.
Stiffening of the Aorta and other Blood Vessels
The valves of the heart can become stiff and this causes valves to leak or makes pumping problems for the heart.
Enlargement of Sections of the Heart
Sections of the heart become enlarged because the heart is straining and working harder to pump blood.
Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
Aging also increases the risk for atrial fibrillation, which is a problem with the electric impulses of the heart that leads to arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal heartbeat, so that the heart beats too slowly or too quickly. In some cases losing weight helps to reverse atrial fibrillation.
If there is a family history of heart disease or known genetic factors, this can lead to heart disease.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
The following symptoms can also be for other medical problems. Your doctor can determine if the problems are from heart disease or something else:
- Pain in the jaw, neck, shoulder, arm or back
- Shortness of breath when physically active and also at rest
- Chest pain on exertion that gets better with rest
- Light-headed feeling
- Cold sweats
- Nausea and vomiting
- Easily tired and fatigued
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, neck and abdomen
- Difficulties carrying out normal routines
A Healthy Lifestyle can Help Prevent Heart Disease
Following a heart-heathy lifestyle can help prevent or slow down the progression of heart disease such as:
- Quit smoking, as smoking increases the risk for heart disease.
- Maintain a good weight. Obesity puts a tremendous strain on the heart, forcing the heart to work harder.
- Get moving. It is important to get physical exercise. If you work on a computer, make sure to take a lot of small breaks and move around.
- If you are a diabetic make sure your glucose is under control.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Eat fish like salmon at least two times a week and eat less red meat. Avoid greasy fried foods and processed meat. Use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as your only fat and oil.
- Learn how to manage stress.
Heart Surgical Procedures
Some heart conditions can lead to the need for open heart surgeries, coronary by-passes, coronary angioplasty and other procedures.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Aging is also a risk factor for developing congestive heart failure (CHF). To learn more about CHF see our blog post from November 23, 2018. CHF, especially if accompanied by other diseases like diabetes or lung problems, can lead to the need for long-term care in a rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility.
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York offers skilled nursing care at its best plus they have a fantastic array of recreational and musical programs. There is also a respiratory wellness program by trained respiratory therapists.