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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.

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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.

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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – Here’s What You Need to Know

Monday , January 18 , 2021

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – Here’s What You Need to Know

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and at ComForCare, we’re encouraging people to start the new year by getting a comprehensive eye exam.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States, affecting about 3 million people. While anyone can get it, those most at risk include African Americans over the age of 40 and anyone over 60.

Unfortunately, without a dilated eye exam, many people don’t even know they have symptoms. The disease is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight.”

With a rapidly aging population, the epidemic is only expected to grow. To help raise awareness, we’ve put together a quick guide to Glaucoma. Keep reading to learn more about the disease and what you can do to help prevent it.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affects the optic nerve within your eyes. It gradually damages the nerve’s ability to function correctly, affecting the brain processes the way images. Typically, it is entirely painless.

The disease’s progression varies from person to person, but it often affects peripheral (side) vision first and later leads to “tunnel vision.” According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, about 5% of cases result in blindness.

Types of Glaucoma

There are several types of Glaucoma, but the main two are open-angle and angle-closure. These are marked by pressure inside the eye.

  • Open-angle Glaucoma is the most common form of Glaucoma, accounting for more than 90% of cases. It’s caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals in the eye, leading to increased pressure. This is a lifetime condition that develops slowly with symptoms that are not noticed.
  • Angle-closure Glaucoma is also caused by the clogging of drainage canals in the eye, however, it usually develops quickly and has very noticeable symptoms. Without immediate medical attention, the damage could be severe.

Risk Factors

Because Glaucoma can destroy vision before any symptoms are apparent, it is vital to be aware of these risk factors:

  • Being of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Having a family history of Glaucoma
  • Having diabetes
  • Being severely nearsighted

Regular screenings are essential to help diagnose the disease as early as possible. If Glaucoma is found, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Glaucoma; however, medical treatment can help slow the spread of the disease. The effectiveness of medication or surgery depends on early diagnosis and the type of Glaucoma treated.

Final Thoughts

Regular eye exams can help detect Glaucoma in the early stages before severe damage has occurred. If you or someone you know needs help getting to an eye doctor appointment or picking up medicated eye drops, ComForCare can provide a reliable, safe, and flexible transportation solution.  Reach out today to schedule your transportation services.

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