Managing Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but the medical condition can be managed by developing healthy habits and taking medication as prescribed.
Managing heart disease is vital to improving your heart health and avoiding serious—and fatal—consequences of the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds while another person dies every 37 seconds from cardiovascular disease.
On a positive note, the CDC reports a slight decline in the number of heart-related deaths, from 165 deaths per 100,000 in 2017 to 163.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2018. But, health officials say there is still much room for improvement.
Managing heart disease is an achievable goal, even if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. All it takes is a commitment to making lifestyle changes to protect your heart.
Older Adults More Likely To Have Heart Disease
Seniors 65 years old and older are more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke, and develop heart disease or heart failure, according to the National Institute on Aging.
What’s more, a study of Medicare patients found that congestive heart failure and acute myocardial infarction (the medical term for “heart attack”) were among the top 10 conditions that required patients to be readmitted to a hospital within 30 days after their initial discharge from a medical facility.
In many cases, a severe heart attack or a paralyzing stroke leaves seniors unable to care for themselves. Without having family members or close friends nearby, seniors may have to consider moving to a long-term care facility, like a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Ways to Manage Heart Disease
Health officials nationwide agree that age, gender, family history, and other risk factors for heart disease are out of an individual’s control. Despite these factors, there are some ways you can take control and reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. For instance, you can:
1. Exercise on a regular basis. Walking, swimming, dancing, cardio workouts, and other types of physical exercise strengthens heart muscles and improves the muscles’ ability to pump blood throughout the body. The American Heart Association recommends resistance training along with physical exercise.
2. Control your weight. Studies show that being overweight can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other dangerous health conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a diet of low-fat and low-cholesterol foods goes a long way in controlling your weight.
3. Stop smoking. According to the CDC, chemicals from cigarette smoke can thicken the blood and form clots inside veins and arteries. Clots that block an artery in the heart can cause a heart attack or stroke.
4. Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to additional calories which can then cause weight gain. If that’s not enough, additional weight can lead to increased blood pressure, a major factor in developing heart disease.
5. Control your blood pressure. Hypertension places you at an increased risk for a heart attack. This is because high blood pressure can damage arteries which can become blocked and stop blood from flowing to the heart.
Stress a Factor in Causing Heart Problems
Reducing stress is easier said than done, especially in personal situations dealing with finances, health, home life, or work. Stress may be unavoidable, but it is manageable.
The Mayo Clinic offers a few tips to manage stress in an effort to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease:
Focus on what you can control.
Focus on how you react to things that are beyond your control.
Know what triggers your stress and find ways to work around them, if at all possible.
Take time out to relax and do activities that you enjoy.
Having a stress management plan in place, such as physical exercise, meditation or relaxation techniques, and resolving problems with others will not only help your physical health but your mental and emotional health as well.