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Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Heart Health

Tuesday , February 16 , 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Heart Health

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States and accounts for 1 in 5 fatalities.

Still, women often see other illnesses, such as breast cancer, as more of a risk. While they are very diligent in setting up appointments for mammograms and pap smears, they neglect routine heart screenings.

This February, for American Heart Month, we’d like to highlight the unique risks women face regarding heart health. Keep reading to learn more.

Women and heart disease

Some risk factors for heart disease – diabetes, hypertension, and smoking, to name a few – are universal. Whether you’re a man or a woman, they can apply. Women have several unique risk factors of their own, though.

For example, women can have a greater possibility of developing heart disease while pregnant or after having been pregnant – especially if they experience hypertension or gestational diabetes. The premature onset of menopause or starting your period early are also considered risk factors, and stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s.

As a woman, it’s important to let your doctor know about your family’s cardiac history AND any other related factors like reproductive issues or mental health concerns.

Six things women should know about heart health

The American Heart Association says that 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease at some point in their lives. Women aged 40 – 60 are at the highest risk, as it’s a volatile time often marked by the start of menopause, changes in body composition, and an increase in cholesterol levels.

Still, 80% of cardiovascular diseases are preventable.

These are the tips offered by the AHA:

  • Get annual checkups. It’s essential to see your doctor for an annual physical to assess heart-health risk and take necessary action. Prepare for the appointment by knowing your numbers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, and write down your family history.
  • Know the symptoms of a heart attack. Women’s heart symptoms don’t always fall into the well-known spectrum of “chest pressure, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath.” Often, women have vaguer symptoms like back pain, fullness in the stomach, and nausea. It’s important to be aware of ALL the signs of an impending heart attack.
  • Tell your doctor if you had pregnancy complications. Complications like diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy and early delivery are linked to cardiovascular disease later in life.
  • Get enough sleep. Less than six or seven hours of sleep a night is connected to heart disease, high blood pressure, and increased weight gain.
  • Keep stress in check. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overeating, and other factors that influence heart health.
  • Find a health partner. Find a friend or family member that you can partner with to get physically and mentally healthy. Try walking together, taking yoga classes, or just having a weekly conversation to vent and de-stress.

Posted in: Health

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Share the Love This February

Wednesday , February 10 , 2021

Share the Love This February

‘Tis the season of love! Even if you “don’t believe in Valentine’s Day,” this is a great time of year to reflect on family, friendship, and (yes) romance. 

We know that 2021 might look a little different from years past. We can’t gather with friends in person or share a romantic date night at our favorite restaurant. Special events only happen online and hugs are virtual.

But despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to get in the spirit. 

Keep reading for some fun ways to help the seniors in your life feel the love: 

Create a Festive Environment 

If you care for an older loved one, help them get in the holiday spirit with some fun and easy decorations (bonus if you can make them together!). When it comes to Valentine’s Day, decorating couldn’t be easier: With just some pink and red construction paper, a pair of scissors, and a little glue, you can quickly make cut-out hearts or a simple chain garland. 

Plan a Celebration

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most people are still staying at home and avoiding crowded places. And while that is the smart thing to do, it had led to an epidemic of loneliness for older adults. 

Help your older loved one get some much-needed social interaction with a virtual visit or outdoor gathering (weather-permitting). Remember: video chats allow people from all over the world to get together in one place at one time, something that may otherwise be impossible. While they don’t replace face-to-face gatherings, they do offer some perks!

Share a Kind Gesture

Even under regular circumstances, many older adults have a difficult time with day-to-day activities, such as cooking a homemade meal. To ease their burden, set up a “meal train” with family and friends, where one person would drop off dinner each day during a set timeframe. 

Other options: 

  • Arrange for snow removal from porches and sidewalks during the colder months
  • Sign up for a laundry service that will pick up their soiled items and return them fresh and folded
  • Deliver a box of boredom-busting treats, such as large-print word finds or a few new movies 
  • Consider dropping off a stuffed animal – these can be great gifts for seniors, especially those with dementia
  • Mail a hand-written note to let them know they’re on your mind – even the smallest gestures make a difference!

Encourage Heart Healthy Exercise

Since Valentine’s Day is all about our hearts, this is a great time of year to remind your older loved ones to take care of their heart health! Heart-healthy activity doesn’t have to mean a three-mile run or an hour of aerobics. There are countless ways seniors can take care of their tickers – and many of them are fun. 

These are some of our favorites (Tip: You can find free video tutorials for all of these on YouTube!): 

  • Tai-chi
  • Chair yoga
  • Dance classes 
  • Modified weight training exercises
  • Walking 
  • Playing with a dog

And don’t forget the sweets! After all, what’s Valentine’s Day without a little chocolate? Luckily, there are plenty of healthy ways to enjoy your favorite desserts, including low-sugar options. 

Remember: These tips aren’t just for February. Anytime you think your older loved one might need a little love or affection, you can turn to this list for some quick and easy ideas! 

Posted in: Aging

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February is American Heart Month

Monday , February 1 , 2021

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month – a time to reflect on heart health and the lifestyle choices that can affect your wellbeing.

Heart disease is a major threat to senior health: According to the CDC, 17.0% of adults aged 65 years and older report having coronary heart disease. But though the risk of developing heart health problems increases with age, it doesn’t HAVE to be a part of getting older.

Keep reading for more information on heart disease, what it is, and how to protect yourself from its deadly effects:


How Your Heart Changes with Age

Anyone can die from a sudden heart attack or stroke, but it is far more likely in older adults. For those aged 65 and older, heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke are very real threats.

Why? Because the heart changes as we age. When combined with poor lifestyle choices, it can spell disaster.

These are some of the ways age can affect your coronary health:

  • Aging causes changes to the heart and blood vessels, such as the heart not beating as fast during exercise
  • Age-related stiffening of the heart can sometimes lead to heart failure
  • Arteries and arterioles become less elastic over the years, making them stiffer and less resilient
  • Risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes increase the chances of developing atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup inside the arteries
  • Long-standing lifestyle choices such as poor diet and heavy alcohol use can lead to heart damage


Symptoms of Heart Disease 

Many older adults are not aware that they have heart disease until after they’ve already had a heart attack. Why? Because often, the symptoms of heart disease can often be attributed to other conditions – especially in older adults.

Here’s what you need to know: Heart Disease refers to a range of conditions that affect your heart, but many of them have similar symptoms.  These can include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • An altered heartbeat (too fast or too slow)
  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Swelling and/or numbness in the extremities
  • Fatigue

If you have these or any other symptoms, it’s important to reach out to your doctor – heart disease is best treated when caught early!


How to Reduce Your Risk 

Many health conditions (aged-related and otherwise) can contribute to heart disease and increase your risk of having a heart attack. It is therefore vital to keep all contributing health problems, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, under control.

Other efforts, such as eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, can help keep your heart healthy. Here are some tips:

  • Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
  • Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake
  • Minimize stress in your daily life
  • Eat a diet heavy in fresh fruits and vegetables, while limiting saturated fats, salt, and added sugar
  • Get regular check-ups to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, and other conditions that affect the heart
  • Watch your weight – too many pounds can create heart disease risk


Final Thoughts

Remember: It’s never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle! Work with your doctor to monitor any current health conditions and help stop new ones from developing.

Posted in: Health

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