Heart diseases - What should I know?
A heart disease is a condition that affects your heart. If you are talking to a medical professional you will probably also come across the term cardiovascular disease. Heart disease and cardiovascular disease are interchangeable terms.
"Heart diseases are the number one cause of deaths in seniors"
Generally, a cardiovascular disease will refer to a condition that involves narrowed or blocked blood vessels. This can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or a stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart muscle, valves or rhythm are also considered forms of heart disease.
However, a lot of heart diseases can be prevented, or even treated, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What are the most common factors in heart diseases?
Getting a heart disease can happen based on a lot of different factors. However, the most common is because of a bad lifestyle and not living healthy.
In the US heart diseases are one of the most frequent conditions that you might experience once becoming older. In fact, it’s the number one cause of death in seniors. Heart failure, coronary artery disease, and atrial fibrillation are all common denominators in seniors.
Before getting a heart attack there are different factors you should pay attention to. Some of these include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being physically inactive, an unhealthy diet and so on.
Fortunately, all of these factors can be changed by you if you make a conscious decision to do so. Changing these factors can also prevent a heart attack.
How can I prevent heart diseases?
Preventing a heart disease or heart attack is not an easy task. But with a lot of hard work and commitment, it is definitely doable.
Although you can do a lot to change your chances of getting a heart attack, there are some factors you can’t do anything about. Family history, sex, and age are all factors that are beyond your power to change.
"Most heart diseases can be prevented by maintaining a healthy and exercising on a regular basis"
If you, however, start adopting a healthy lifestyle today, you can avoid future heart problems.
Below we have compiled a list of 7 steps to provide you with the right guidance on how to avoid heart issues.
Step 1 - Don't smoke or quit now!
Using any kind of tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for developing a heart disease. The chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels. This can then lead to narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack.
When it comes to smoking and heart diseases, no amount of smoking is safe. However, the more you smoke the more likely you are to suffer from a heart disease.
The good news is, that after you quit smoking you will start reaping the rewards immediately. Your risk of heart disease will start to decrease. After 1 year of being smoke-free, your risk of coronary heart disease will have reduced significantly.
Step 2 – Start exercising for at least 30 minutes a day
Getting started on a daily routine of exercise can reduce your risk of heart diseases. If you then combine physical exercise with a healthy lifestyle your payoff will be even greater.
Even though the recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes a day, at a semi- to high speed, shorter amounts are also highly beneficial. You can always choose to break your exercise time into shorter amounts, for instance, 10-minute periods.
You should also be aware that activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs, and walking the dog, all count toward your total amount.
Step 3 – Stay on a heart healthy diet
There are two examples of diets that can help reduce your risks of getting a heart disease. The first is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, the other is the Mediterranean diet.
Both of these diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They also aim to make you eat beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats, and fish. Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Just by adding these to your diet, you can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and thereby prevent heart diseases.
Maintaining a healthy diet also means being aware of your alcohol consumptions. It is better for your heart if you consume alcohol in moderate amount. In some cases, alcohol can have a protective effect on your heart, but too much is not good.
Step 4 - Keep a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your chances of heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Losing any excessive weight can be very beneficial.
Step 5 – Get enough sleep of good quality
People who don’t get enough sleep will have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, and depression. Most seniors need to sleep 9 hours a night.
If you wake up refreshed every morning, this is a sign that you are getting enough sleep. If you wake up feeling tired, chances are, you need more sleep. Make a schedule and stick to it. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. You should also aim to keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quite so it is easier to sleep.
If you feel that you are getting enough sleep but still feel tired, you should talk to your doctor.
Step 6 – Manage stress
If you are one of those people who doesn’t deal with stress in a healthy way, you should find alternative ways to deal with it. These could, for instance, include physical activity, relaxation exercises or meditation. These also help improve your mental health.
Step 7 – Visit your doctor on a regular basis
Becoming older and entering your senior years probably also means that you will spend more time at your doctor’s office. If not, you should make it a priority. By seeing your doctor on a regular basis, it becomes easier to notice whenever something is wrong. Regular screenings can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action or not.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won’t know if you are suffering from either.
I have had a heart attack, what now?
After a heart attack, it is common to worry a lot. What does it mean? Will it happen again? Can I prevent future heart attacks?
These are but a few of the worries you might have. But the good news is that you will soon be able to do the same things you did before. Getting better and feeling good about yourself can take time. Patience is key.
Preventing future heart attacks can be done by following these 5 steps:
- Take your prescribed medications
- Attend your follow-up appointments
- Participate in the Cardiac rehabilitation program – this is a medically supervised program, designed to help you recover after a heart attack. Talk to your doctor about it.
- Get support from family and friends. You can also join a support group
- Manage your risk factors and stay healthy.