The most common or “Big Five” signs that people are at a increased risk for a heart attack are: diabetes, smoking, family history of heart attacks, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Each of these risk factors are powerful and extremely predictive, as each one can easily double the possibility of contracting heart disease. However, the standard risk factors are not the only indicators of heart disease. Here are three additional heart disease indicators every senior needs to be aware of:
1. Eating on the run
For seniors who are constantly eating in a rush, it is easy to miss out on the protective de-stressing factor that goes along with sitting down to a meal and enjoying it. Taking the time to savor a meal with family or friends offers a chance to decompress and socialize. For seniors who are eating fast food or unhealthy processed foods, those meals are generally high in sodium, sugar and trans-fats. These unhealthy meals are the foods that ultimately lead to coronary heart disease.
Post-menopausal women have an increased risk for developing heart disease. Fifty percent of all American women will develop high blood pressure by the age 60 and two-thirds of those women will develop high blood pressure by the age of 70. There is actually an increase of coronary heart disease-related deaths among women who are post-menopausal. Additionally, more women die of coronary heart disease than men do. While scientists do not know what causes this increase, they do know that estrogen replacement does not seem to alter the risk factor.
3. Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a term that refers to pauses in a normal breathing pattern while sleeping. Sleep apnea is often connected to a condition known as atrial fibrillation (A-fib.) Atrial fibrillation simply means that there is an irregular heartbeat present. If left untreated, people who experience A-fib can develop strokes over the course of years. For those people who suspect they have sleep apnea, it is vital to see a sleep specialist physician in order to obtain the proper assessment and
medical treatment. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that can be successfully managed, avoiding an increased risk for developing A-fib.