Know the Early Signs of Heart Disease

By August 19, 2015Aging in Place

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. today. Eighty-four percent of those over the age of 65 fall victim to various forms of the disease. More than one in three men will exhibit the symptoms of heart disease, but many attribute heart attack signs to being tired, indigestion, and other conditions. The danger of heart attack and stroke is that they can occur suddenly and without any warning. Knowing the early signs of heart attack and heart failure can save lives!

Both men and women may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, unusual sweating, lightheadedness, or nausea when experiencing a heart attack. These should be red flags, as well as pain or tingling in the upper extremities. Women are more apt to experience discomfort in the jaw, neck, abdomen, and across the back.

Stroke is called the silent killer. It has virtually no symptoms until it strikes. Remember the signs and symptoms of stroke with the FAST acronym – Face, Arms, Speech, Time.

  • F: Is the face drooping on one side?
  • A: Can the person hold up both arms at an even level?
  • S: Is the person’s speech slurred, words spoken in a garbled manner, or is there no speech at all?
  • T: Time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately if you suspect someone is having a stroke. There is a limited window of time in which to administer stroke-mitigating drugs at the hospital.
  • The main causes of heart attack can actually be avoided through a healthy lifestyle. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels will induce heart disease. Both of these can be lowered by a healthy, balanced diet and in some cases medication. Fruits and vegetables are good for the heart. Limit saturated fats, salty foods, and fatty meats. Reduce alcohol intake to fend off arrhythmias (an irregular heartbeat), as well as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

    Quit smoking! It’s a killer, no matter how you look at it. Smoking can cause plaque to build up on the inner walls of arteries, putting pressure on the heart or causing blockages in the arteries.

    Exercising 30 minutes daily in coordination with a healthy diet will help to create a healthy heart and body.

    If at all possible, minimize stress. Stress can lead to unhealthy habits and lifestyles, negatively affecting physical and mental health. Depression may inspire cravings for fatty foods and salty snacks. It’s important to avoid this, as being overweight puts pressure on the heart. Exercise helps to avoid depression, stay healthy, and build a strong healthy heart.

    Above all, seeing a doctor regularly can help older people keep tabs on their health. Keeping diabetes under control, or treating angina will ward off heart disease. The more informed the senior, the better.

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