Heart disease occurs when fatty deposits build up on the walls of the coronary arteries. This plaque can take years to occur and it can be quite common in the elderly. Since those coronary arteries are responsible for providing blood nutrients and oxygen to the heart, when they become filled with plaque, it can be quite dangerous for the health of the heart. There is less room for the blood to flow which slows down the ability of the heart to get what it needs. When the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen and blood nutrients, the heart muscle cells will die and weaken the heart, possibly causing a heart attack.
Heart disease often runs in a family, but it can also be brought on by lifestyle choices. Smoking, being overweight, and having high cholesterol levels are just a few of the non-hereditary things that may increase your loved one’s likelihood of developing heart disease.
You will want to be aware of the symptoms of heart disease so if any of them start to present themselves, you can help your loved one take the needed medical steps to better heart health. Of course, the best choice is to do what you can to prevent heart disease from occurring at all by helping your loved one make heart-healthy choices today such as eating right and getting plenty of exercise.
Heart Disease Symptoms
While you should contact the doctor right away or call 9-1-1 if your loved one feels any chest pain, discomfort, or pressure, that is often not the most common symptom of heart disease, so these listed below are also important to monitor.
- Chest pain that is worse when he is active, but then gets better when resting. If your loved one complains to you or his senior home care provider that his chest hurts when he climbs the stairs, but then seems fine when he’s sitting, it might be that his heart is struggling to get the blood it needs for exertion.
- Pain, tingling, or numbness in the shoulders, neck, back, or jaw that seems to come from nowhere (he hasn’t injured the area).
- A fluttering in the chest caused by arrhythmia.
- A continual shortness of breath that carries over from being active to sitting and even laying down. If your senior home care provider notices your loved one struggling to get enough breaths in, they can alert you.
- Lightheadedness and dizziness. A lack of blood flow could cause these symptoms.
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and neck might be caused by edema, a common side effect of heart disease.
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue that doesn’t seem to improve with a good night’s sleep.
If your loved one has any signs of heart disease, his doctor may send him to a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in the heart, and will help you both find the best treatment for him.