Heart health as we age is more important than ever

Heart disease remains the leading killer in the U.S., claiming 600,000 lives every year, according to SeniorLiving.org. With more than 84 percent of those deaths coming from people 65 years or older, as your elderly parent ages, caring for their heart becomes even more important.

There are factors that can’t be mitigated such as gender — men have twice as many heart attacks as women — race and/or heredity traits. But there are factors that you can control. It’s always wise to seek the advice of your doctor, but here are some ways to cut back on controllable risk factors.

Smoking

Your elderly parent smokes, it increases risk of coronary heart disease two to four times over nonsmokers. It can be hard to break an ingrained habit, especially one that has been present in their life for many years, but if they’re serious about preventing heart disease, quitting is a necessity. Pipe and cigar smokers also increase their risk, but not as much as cigarette smokers.

High cholesterol

The higher the amounts of cholesterol — a fatty substance found in the blood — the greater the risk of heart attack. There are two kinds of cholesterol: Low-density lipoporoteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol because it deposits fat (plague) on the walls of the heart’s arteries, increasing risk of heart disease. HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol from arteries.

The key to controlling cholesterol is what you eat. Reducing total fat consumed is a start. Then focusing on eating foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables will reduce bad cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids–found in fish can reduce blood pressure according to SeniorLiving.org. They suggest trying herring, halibut, salmon and mackerel. In addition, they advise eating nuts like almonds and walnuts to keep your blood vessels healthy.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can increase the hearts workload and cause the heart to thicken, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

Being physically inactive doubles the risk of heart disease, and even moderate physical activity can help prevent heart and blood vessel disease. The added benefits of regular exercise include helping to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

Obesity

When you’re heavier it causes your heart to work that much harder. Even losing 10 lbs. can help. A healthy diet and regular exercise can both affect your weight positively.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is contributed to by being overweight. Again,weight loss and regular exercise can have a positive impact.

Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options with facing an elderly person at risk for heart disease. Our professional staff can help properly implement the necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure the best quality of life for your aging parent.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts.

Contact us today for your family’s elder care needs.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”