American Heart Month: Top Questions to Ask About Your Heart Health

American Heart Month Graphic

For many people, February is known as the month of love and fittingly also happens to be American Heart Health Month. While the month marks a time to show our love to the important people in our lives, it’s also a time to make sure we show some love to ourselves, by making lifestyle changes to keep our heart strong and healthy. Heart health for seniors is particularly important because our heart undergoes many changes as we age.

According to a report from the American Heart Association, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations among adults 65 and over in the United States. And according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, problems related to the vascular system can increase the risk of dementia and other illnesses that affect cognitive performance.

You may be wondering: what can I do to improve my heart health and what steps can I take to ensure that my heart stays healthy? Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about heart health in seniors. As always, consult with your doctor or medical professional for guidance before making any healthcare decisions.

What are the signs of heart disease in seniors?

Heart disease is a general term used to describe many different conditions that affect the heart. Conditions present various symptoms; however, there are certain signs of heart disease to watch for, including:

  • Pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the shoulder, arms, neck, jaw and/or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Reduced physical activity

Take note of these symptoms and discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider to receive an accurate heart health assessment.

Can heart health for seniors be improved?

Heart health for seniors can improve with physical activity, healthy eating habits and stress reduction. Seniors who stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight and control certain health conditions, particularly high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, will benefit long-term. Additionally, participating in a consistent exercise program, following a heart-healthy diet with foods that are low-sodium, have minimal trans and saturated fats and added sugars will significantly improve heart health over time. Some heart healthy foods for seniors that are good to incorporate into a balanced diet are colorful vegetables, high quality proteins including poultry and fish with Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, healthy fats such as avocados, flax seeds and olive oil and low-fat dairy products.

(Related: 4 Tips to a Healthy Heart)  

Does your heart change with age?

Heart health fluctuates with age, diet, overall wellness and a variety of different factors. As we age, our likelihood of developing heart disease increases due to age-related changes in the way the heart functions. These changes may cause different physical conditions including arrhythmias, hypertension or weakening of the heart muscle. This can increase the risk of developing heart disease or other heart-related conditions.

(Related: Tips for Living with Congestive Heart Failure)  

What questions should I ask my doctor about heart disease?

Ask your healthcare provider these questions when discussing your heart health:

  • What are some of my risk factors for developing heart disease?
  • What screening tests do I need to tell if I’m at risk for heart disease?
  • What can I do to help reduce my risk for heart disease?
  • What is a good heart-healthy eating and physical activity plan for me?

What resources are available to help me understand my heart health?

There are many resources to help you understand, monitor and improve your heart health. At Concordia, our residents have access to a variety of fitness classes, equipment and programs and our quality care administered by experienced, compassionate caregivers ensures physical wellness is a top priority. Several locations including: Concordia of the South Hills, Concordia at Sumner and Concordia Village of Tampa, as well as our other retirement living locations, have many different resources, including educational material to help individuals understand their heart health.

Some programs we offer that promote heart health and physical wellness include:

  • Dance clubs
  • Silver Sneakers classes
  • Aquatic fitness classes
  • Exercise equipment
  • Walking clubs
  • Stretching and flexibility classes
  • Balance, stability and strength training courses

There is no denying that our chance of developing heart-related conditions grows greater with age. Keep your risk at a minimum with help from the caregivers at Concordia Lutheran Ministries. Each one of our senior care communities goes above and beyond the standard for healthcare facilities, providing our residents with highly qualified professionals who are dedicated to providing quality care. Schedule a tour of any one of our locations today, and discover how our commitment to caring shows in everything we do.

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