For American Heart Month, Brookfield Senior Living is examining some of the common heart issues faced by people as they age.
High Blood Pressure
Sometimes called “the silent killer,” high blood pressure often causes no symptoms. Many seniors with high blood pressure or hypertension feel perfectly healthy. Over time, however, untreated high blood pressure can cause the arteries to harden and cause damage to multiple organ systems, including the brain and kidneys. Heart disease has also been linked to stroke.
Because high blood pressure can be asymptomatic, it’s important for seniors to regularly monitor their blood pressure.
While high blood pressure is common in older adults, it isn’t inevitable.
Here’s how you can control your blood pressure naturally:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Eat a heart-healthy diet (limit high-salt food, saturated fats, trans fats, fried foods; eat more fruits and vegetables)
- Manage stress
- Get adequate sleep (most seniors need 6 hours of sleep per night)
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Unsurprisingly, it is also the leading cause of death among people aged 65 and older.
Heart disease refers to a number of heart-related conditions, including coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, peripheral artery disease, and congestive heart failure.
Oftentimes, heart disease is not diagnosed until a major health event, such as a heart attack and arrhythmia, send a person to the hospital.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- Congenital heart defects
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Excessive drinking
- Sedentary lifestyle
Additionally, it’s important to control your stress and regularly visit your doctor to manage chronic illnesses.
Specialized exercise programs in Arkansas can also help seniors who need attainable fitness goals.
As we age, the electrical system in the heart can be damaged or begin losing cells. As a result, the at-rest heart rate can be lower for older people than younger people. Electrical changes in the heart can also make older people more susceptible to abnormal heart rhythms (also known as arrhythmia). The most common type of arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation doesn’t cause harmful effects on its own, but over time, it can lead to an increased risk of stroke, blood supply issues, and chronic fatigue.
It’s important for seniors with atrial fibrillation to monitor their heart health with regular doctor visits. It’s also important to make heart-healthy choices, exercise regularly, and make important changes like quitting smoking.
For seniors concerned about their heart health, it’s important to make small, heart-healthy changes every day. Have more questions about senior health and wellness? Check Brookfield Senior Living’s Education page for regular updates!