February is Heart Health Awareness Month. So, the team at Best Care wants to share some tips on heart health for seniors. According to the CDC, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. However, there are some ways that you can reduce the risk of heart disease and support seniors through heart-related procedures.
Let’s get started!
Heart Health Tips for Seniors
As we get older, we are more at risk for various heart conditions. In fact, it’s one of the leading reasons for seniors to be hospitalized. If you’re a senior or are in charge of a senior’s health and daily care, here are a few ideas of cardiovascular home care that you can implement right now:
Heart-related incidents, such as heart attacks, are most likely to occur within three hours of waking up. Easing into the day and saving strenuous activities for later on can reduce this risk.
When it’s cold out, our arteries constrict, raising our blood pressure and forcing our hearts to work overtime. It is especially important for those over the age of 70 to keep warm, so try to avoid prolonged stays in the cold and always wrap up snugly when going outdoors in the Minnesota’s chilly winter air.
Eating and drinking favorite treats are fine in moderation, but do your best to avoid excessive consumption or weight gain. This can lead to an irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and other cardiovascular risks.
Take it easy
As we get older, many people want to keep up the same active lifestyle as they always did. While regular exercise is good, overexerting one’s self can damage both physical and emotional health. Find time to relax every day to avoid emotional exhaustion.
How to maintain good heart health after a heart procedure
After waiting months for a donor heart, patients and families feel a sense of relief when they get the call informing them a suitable heart is available and transplant surgery is scheduled. When the heart transplant recipient returns home, his or her new routine can overwhelm both the patient and the entire family members. A Personal Care Assistant (PCA) can help smooth out the transition and make sure that the recipient of care’s recovery goes as well as possible.
Find out if you or your loved one is eligible for PCA services.
What to expect when coming home after a heart transplant
Most heart transplant doctors recommend heart transplant patients return home after they are discharged from the hospital as opposed to going into a skilled nursing facility. The primary reason for this preference is that patients are less likely to develop an infection at home than in a nursing facility because there is more control over who is near the patient.
Since the patient’s body views the new heart as a foreign object, the immune system can attack it, so doctors prescribe drugs that suppress the immune system. However, this can leave the patient vulnerable to infection. Family members and other caregivers need to monitor the patient closely for signs of rejection and infection.
Heart transplant patients need to take their medications at the same time each day and ensure they have the prescription refilled a few days before they are finished with their current supply of medication.
Indications of possible heart transplant rejection
Heart transplant recipients, their families, and caregivers need to watch for the following signs that suggest the patient’s body might be rejecting the new heart:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain due to fluid retention
- Reduced urine output
If the patient exhibits any of these signs, contact a doctor immediately. Some other tips to help reduce the risk of rejection are:
- Recording the recipient of care’s weight, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature on a daily basis to catch any other early signs of rejection.
- Washing hands to reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoiding unpasteurized milk and cheese, raw shellfish, and other foods that might harbor bacteria. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before consumption.
- Support recipients of care through the emotions following a heart transplant, such as anxiety of rejection, depression, or impatience for life to get back to ‘normal’
Best Care is here to support caregivers across Minnesota. If you have any other questions about senior care, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our team!