Understanding Heart Disease
Approaching middle age and later years comes with a number of health changes and increased health risks. One commonly faced issue in America is heart disease. In 2020, one in five deaths was due to heart disease and related complications.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country, regardless of gender or ethnicity, with someone dying every 34 seconds. Read on to learn more about factors that affect heart disease, particularly among the aging population, and what you can do to keep your heart beating strong.
Some people can be at extra risk for heart disease, if they have a family history of coronary events, but many issues can be prevented by adjusting your lifestyle. You could be at greater risk if you live a sedentary lifestyle with little exercise and poor nutrition. Other risk factors include:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Gender, with women being slightly more at risk of developing heart disease around menopause
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen can prevent heart disease. Patients look to medical professionals for advice on the healthiest diet to follow. However, especially as people grow older, it can be hard to change habits. With this in mind, medical professionals can look for ways to improve patients’ diets in meaningful ways.
If a patient expresses their favorite food is waffles, for example, offer a recipe that uses heart-healthy substitutions such as whole grain flour and real maple syrup vs. highly processed ingredients. There is almost always a way to make a simple adjustment to an unhealthy meal with a bit of creative brainstorming.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is the best way to keep our hearts and other muscles strong. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense physical activity per week. However, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, painful, or exhausting to be effective. Simple workouts like yoga, walking, and kicking a ball can be enough as long as it increases your heart rate.
Recent research has shown a link between heart disease and gum disease. Studies out of Harvard Medical School offer a range of theories as to this connection. It could be that plaque and other cells break off from our teeth and enter the digestive system, possibly contributing to arterial clogs.
There may also be tertiary risk factors that overlap, such as the tendency for people who smoke cigarettes and have poor dental hygiene to experience heart disease. While the research is currently unclear, cleaning your teeth regularly and making annual dentist visits is never a bad thing.
Whatever struggles a person faces, we can help them overcome the barriers to wellness. Just remember, we don’t need to fight heart disease alone. With a competent care team and network of home health providers, we can make the necessary adjustments and keep our patients’ heart health on track.