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By the time you read this, the reported deaths from COVID-19 will have exceeded 450,000 in the U.S. As staggering as that statistic is, it's 150,000 short of the 600,000 Americans who die every year from heart disease, the number one killer in all groups.
Let's not allow the topic to overwhelm the fact there's a miracle inside your chest. Weighing about as much as a grapefruit, the heart is a powerful pump that drives five to six quarts of blood to every microscopic part of your body every second. And if it fails for even a second, the body is very unforgiving. Even though it's the one piece of machinery driven by the brain, we tend to treat the heart like a kitchen appliance that we take for granted. Rarely serviced, rarely cleaned, and overworked until it burns out. Although heart bypass and transplant have become routine since the pioneering operations in the 1960s, it's not like replacing the coffee maker you neglected too long.
One Thing at a Time
The better way to treat your heart with the respect it deserves is to start with changing just small habits. That way, you'll avoid the relapse from trying to change everything at once and falling back to unhealthy heart habits inside of a month. The most obvious: if you're a smoker or heavy drinker, work on that first. Imagine a small team of remodelers arriving at your heart to do a makeover. The first thing they're going to say is, "Well, we can't do anything with the plumbing until we clear the smoke."
Look for Help During Heart Month
Quitting smoking and to reduce alcohol is never easy, but this is probably as good a time as any during the year to start a cessation program – with help. February is American Heart Month, so you're likely to be reminded frequently of heart health and offered tips on modifying your routine to help your heart and prolong a happy life. If you only look to one place, trust the American Heart Association – www.heart.org.
Prediabetes and Heart Disease
What's your blood sugar level? If you don't know, you should find out from your doctor if you're not already monitoring it yourself. You could be pre-diabetic without knowing it or showing any symptoms. There's a good chance you could avoid becoming diabetic and reverse your pre-diabetic blood sugar to normal with relatively little change to your diet and a slight increase in your activity. Diabetes has long been linked to heart disease, but recent studies suggest that reversing prediabetes is also linked to fewer heart attacks and strokes. ["Reversing Prediabetes linked to fewer heart attacks, strokes," heart.org, Jan. 26, 2021.]
While you're at it, get your cholesterol tested and routinely monitor your blood pressure.
If you're worried you might be at risk for heart disease, ask your doctor to perform a simple cholesterol test to let you know if you're at risk and should adjust your diet. Home blood pressure monitors are not expensive, they're digital, and they're easy to use. Blood pressure stations are common in supermarkets now, and you can also check your weight and pulse.
Women's Heart Health
Why the emphasis on women's heart health? The American Heart Association tells us that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year – about one woman every minute. They devote an entire website to women's heart health: Go Red for Women (www.goredforwomen.org). Here are just a few of the common misconceptions about women's heart health:
Myth: Heart disease is for men, and cancer is the real threat for women
Fact: Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men and is more deadly than all cancer forms combined. While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease is the cause of one out of every three deaths.
Myth: Heart disease is for old people
Fact: Heart disease affects women of all ages. For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent. Heart defects are more common than you might think: 1.3 million Americans alive today have some form of congenital heart defect and at least nine of every 1,000 infants born each year have a heart defect. Even if you live a completely healthy lifestyle, being born with an underlying heart condition can be a risk factor.
Myth: "I run marathons – no way I could be at risk."
Fact: Factors like cholesterol, eating habits, and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and have high cholesterol. The American Heart Association says to start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20. Earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease.
Age and Heart Health
Many things, like wine and most people, grow better with age. The heart, however, takes more tending than a glass of fine wine. Avoid things that weaken your heart beyond the normal aging process. These are the usual suspects: smoking and tobacco use, lack of exercise, diet, alcohol, overeating, and stress. Some preexisting conditions you can't control: irregular heartbeat, congenital (inherited) heart defects, sleep apnea (although this may be a product of obesity or alcohol consumption).
Viruses and Myocarditis.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle mostly caused by a virus, including COVID-19, and can lead to left-sided heart failure. The left ventricle of the heart is the part that pumps oxygen-rich blood back to the body. This valve tends to stiffen with age. That's one of the many reasons why age combined with a preexisting condition puts you at greater risk of death from COVID-19. Even survivors of the novel coronavirus infection can sustain permanent heart damage. All people must protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by observing precautions, not just because of its immediate lethality but also because of the it's impact on the heart, known and unknown.
How to Start with Your Heart
The factors involved in heart health and the onset of heart disease are many, varied, and complicated. But the common preventions (listed here, from the Mayo Clinic) are simple. You probably already know them by heart, so to speak:
Those may seem like six significant challenges, especially if you take on all six. But you should notice something else about them. Almost every one of them can affect the other five. So, if you pick one, you'll find it easier to take on the next one. People who quit smoking usually discover that they have more energy within the first week, and exercise becomes easier. A little exercise and switching out one unhealthy food will help with weight, stress, blood pressure, and diabetes. Easy does it, especially if you're 65 and older. You've spent a whole life learning one way. You can take your time. Learn to enjoy your healthier heart. But start today.
First, Get a Checkup!
Most of the questions this article has raised in your mind ("What's my blood sugar level?" "What's my blood pressure?" "I used to smoke – am I at risk?") can all be answered in a single doctor's visit with simple lab work done a few days before. Schedule it now, before you start a program of exercise and diet. And schedule a regular exam per your doctor's recommendation. Relieving the stress of not knowing will be a good start on your way to a healthier heart.
Love is in the air this month, and part of that means taking the best care possible of the ones you love. February also is a time when the nation spotlights heart disease, the number one killer of Americans. As part of American Heart Month, take some time to combine the two - focus on the heart health of the ones you love the most, including the seniors in your life. People aged 65 and older are more likely to suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. Its time to get down to business. Focus on the heart health of the seniors in your life. Ensuring they get checked out by a medical professional is important. But also do some fun, healthy things together to promote heart health.Here are 25 tips for seniors to be heart-healthy.Make an appointment to see your primary care physician. Find out how youre doing, and see what recommendations he or she has for your heart health.Go to the free yoga classes at Venice Beach. There are classes in the morning or a sunset class at 5 p.m. each day, all for free, seven days a week.If youre still using tobacco products and smoking at this age, its time to stop. Make this the year you quit. If you have a senior loved one in your life that smokes, help them stop and make it a goal for this year.Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Know your healthy ranges, and ensure you stay within those.Find some new recipes that are heart-healthy and make them together with your senior loved one.Head outside each day. Even if youre just going to fetch the mail from the mailbox, it gets you moving and out into the fresh air.Be around people. Loneliness is bad for the heart. Find friends you want to be with, join an event at the senior center, or call up a family member you havent talked to in a while.Get some Zzzs. The Centers for Disease Control says getting enough sleep is vital for heart health. Portion control is key to healthy eating. Before your meal or before you snack, measure out your portions, so you dont overeat. Head to the Peace River Gardens in Punta Gorda. There are different botanicals to see throughout the year. It is a great place to walk around and get some exercise while seeing the sculptures and artwork. There also are events to attend throughout the year.Make it a goal to walk at some different beaches this year. Try a new one each week. Hit some youve never tried before, or go back to an old favorite. Walk a little further each time you visit. Walking in the sand is great exercise, and looking at and listening to the ocean is good for the soul. Feel the sunshine on your face at least once a day if its shining, even for a minute. Whether you simply step onto your patio or head to the beach, it is a great way to get into a good mood and improve your overall health.Move a little more each day, or each week. Make some goals, such as walking one block further, or riding your bike for a minute more each week. Every little bit counts, and leads to heart healthier habits.Have you gone to the grocery store and seen some odd-looking spiky fruits and wondered what they were? Put one of those in your cart and try one for the first time. See if its something you want to add to your heart-healthy diet. It seems like everyone loves pickleball. Try it out and see if youre a fan too.Hire a caregiver that can help you get moving. Compassionate caregivers at places such as Visiting Angels Punta Gorda can provide services such as companionship on a walk around the neighborhood, or fall prevention help as you do laps in your own home. Hunt for sharks teeth at Venice Beach. Even if you dont find a lot, the act of bending down each time, sticking your hand in the water and seeing what treasures youve found is exercise, and its a fun hunt and thing to do. Watch a comedy or a funny show. Laugh out loud. As they say, laughter is the best medicine.Turn on the tunes. If you have upbeat music playing in your home or car, you cant help but bop around to it. It puts you in a good mood and adds more movement to your day. Head to a farmers market and grab some fresh fruit and vegetables. Wash them up so you have healthy, ready-to-eat snacks.Make sure your seniors get up and out of bed and moving each day. If needed, hire a caregiver that can help them get dressed and ready for the day. Being dressed and ready helps put them into the right mindset to be active and alert during the day. As youre sitting down watching a show, lift some hand weights or do some leg lifts. Make it a goal to do 20 on each limb while youre watching the nightly news before dinner. Stand more if youre able. Do some of the tasks you might usually do sitting down while standing instead. For example, pace around the house while youre on the phone instead of sitting in your comfy chair. Stretch each day. It not only keeps you more nimble, but stretching can get your heart rate up.Eat at least two servings of fish a week The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are great for heart health.Visiting Angels is Here to HelpIf you are looking for help with your senior loved one as they strive for heart health, our professionals at Visiting Angels Punta Gorda are here to help. We provide a variety of home care services to meet any need they might have, from getting dressed for a morning walk to help with light meal prep.Our expert team of caregivers serves clients in Punta Gorda, North Fort Myers, Boca Grande, Cape Coral, Sanibel, Captiva, Arcadia and surrounding areas. To learn more about our services, call us at 941-347-8288, or fill out an online form here.
Many consider February as the month to reflect on the love in their lives, but its also the time to take a beat for cardiovascular health. American Heart Month is an opportunity to build awareness around healthy living and heart health in seniors.As we age, the risk of heart disease and stroke increases. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in older adults, so maintaining heart health is crucial in reducing the risk of these conditions and improving overall health. Healthy hearts also allow for increased physical activity and energy levels, which help seniors stay more active, be more independent, and have the ability to engage in meaningful activities and relationships.Maintaining heart health also can lead to a longer lifespan. Here are some lifestyle changes and healthy habits seniors can adopt to keep their hearts healthy and reduce their risk for heart disease:Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, can help improve cardiovascular fitness, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.Eat a healthy diet: A diet low in saturated and trans fats and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help lower the risk of heart disease. Limit the amount of salt, sugar, and processed foods in your diet.Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Smoking cessation can significantly reduce the risk of heart problems and improve overall health.Control blood pressure: High blood pressure and heart disease go hand-in-hand. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider and medications, if needed, can help keep blood pressure under control.Manage stress: Chronic stress can contribute to heart disease. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can lead to health problems, but maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help lower the risk.Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, so seniors should catch 7 to 9 hours of zzzs each night.Following these healthy habits can improve heart health in seniors and reduce their risk of heart disease. If a heart event does occur, cardiac rehabilitation can be a valuable part of the recovery process.WHAT IS CARDIAC REHABILITATION?Cardiac rehabilitation plays a critical role in helping seniors recover and improve their physical and mental health after a heart event, such as a heart attack, angioplasty, bypass surgery, or heart failure. Its a multidisciplinary program in senior care to help them reduce the risk of future heart problems, improve their overall quality of life, and return to normal activities as soon as possible.The exercise component of cardiac rehabilitation typically includes low- to moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling, or using an elliptical machine, as well as resistance training to build muscle strength and endurance. The education component of cardiac rehab may include information on healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving diet, quitting smoking, and managing stress, as well as medications and medical procedures related to heart health.BENEFITS OF CARDIAC REHABILITATIONCardiac rehabilitation plays a vital role in the recovery process of older adults who have experienced a heart event. Rehabilitation therapy supports senior heart health by helping reduce the risk of future heart problems and improving overall well-being. Cardiac rehab can also help older adults:Manage heart disease: Seniors with heart disease may choose to participate in cardiac rehabilitation as part of their management plan. The program can help reduce risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.Improve physical function: Seniors experiencing decreased physical function or those at risk for heart disease may participate in cardiac rehabilitation to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and endurance.Manage chronic conditions: Seniors with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or COPD, may opt for cardiac rehabilitation as part of their overall management plan. The program can help improve physical function and reduce the risk of complications related to these conditions.SENIOR CARE & CARDIAC REHAB AT PREMIER PLACEPremier Place is The Glenview at Pelican Bays onsite health and rehabilitation center for exceptional senior care in a comfortably elegant coastal setting. Offerings include short-term, post-acute and long-term care, and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation therapies for complex medical conditions, including cardiac events.Our experienced team of healthcare professionals includes nurses, therapists and aides who provide comprehensive care to Glenview residents and others needing senior care in Naples and the surrounding area. The team works closely with seniors, their families, their doctors and caregivers to ensure every healing moment matters and provide the support they need throughout their entire recovery.Premier Places award-winning spa-like atmosphere, luxury amenities, spacious private suites, dynamic therapy gym, personalized treatment plans, and chef-prepared fine dining are designed to promote health and healing and help seniors get back to feeling their best as soon as possible.Explore Premier Place online to learn more about our centers first-class hospitality, holistic approach to health and healing, and expertise and collaboration to support exceptional care for seniors.
Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and heart failure are increasing in prevalence worldwide and often associated with poor outcomes. However, some people are not aware they have atrial fibrillation until it is detected when a doctor is listening to the heart with a stethoscope. If you have difficulty breathing, or have chest pains lasting more than a few minutes, it is recommended to seek medical help. Someone with A-fib can still live a long and active life with treatment from their doctor and self-management.Treatment may include medications, therapy, surgery, or catheter procedures, in order to reset the heart rhythm, control heart rate, and prevent blood clots that can lead to strokes.Self-management includes following a heart-healthy lifestyle with changes such as:Eating heart-healthy foodsExercising regularlyQuit smokingMaintain a healthy weightLimit alcoholKeep blood pressure and cholesterol under controlGet follow-up careLearn more:Atrial fibrillation [Internet] Mayo Clinic. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350630
The Windsor of Cape Coral is the premiere assisted living community in Lee County; offering 84 spacious apartments. We are built to Hurricane 5 standards; two-story with two elevators; 24/7 nurse in the community; opened in 2009. Seven spacious floor plans in assisted living, and 14 private room secured memory care with private baths and showers. We have the best activities program by far with over 300 activities per month for our residents and their families. We invite you to come visit us!
The Windsor of Cape Coral is the premiere assisted living community in Lee County; offering 84 spacious apartments. We are built to Hurricane 5 standards; two-story with two elevators; 24/7 nurse in the community; opened in 2009. Seven spacious floor plans in assisted living, and 14 private room secured memory care with private baths and showers. We have the best activities program by far with over 300 activities per month for our residents and their families.