February is the month when people decorate their windows with red hearts and spend time with their special someone. It is also a time to thing about taking care of your heart. That’s because February is Heart Health Month.
Heart Month is designed to bring awareness to a condition that takes more women’s lives each year than all types of cancer combined: heart disease. Heart disease strikes one in three women and often goes unnoticed until it is too late. So each year the American Heart Association puts forward several programs to bring heart disease into the national conversation.
As a senior, it’s important to know your risk factors for heart disease. An active senior who eats right may think that she is at no risk, but many women who were seemingly healthy were surprised by their first heart attack. Here are some factors that can increase your chances of heart disease.
High Cholesterol. Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance that resides in the blood. Over time it can stick to the inner walls of blood vessels, narrowing them in dangerous ways that can produce heart attacks, clots, and strokes. Your body actually does need a small amount of cholesterol to function, but it creates what it needs on its own. When you consume it regularly in meats and other animal products, cholesterol levels can become too high, increasing your heart disease risk.
High Blood Pressure. Often thought of as “the silent killer”, many times there are no symptoms until the damage is severe. An increase in blood pressure overworks the heart, creating damage in the arteries and the heart itself. From having to deal with such constant high pressure, the arteries begin to lose their elasticity, priming them for aneurisms or causing heart attack or stroke.
Inactivity. The heart is just like any other muscle – it needs to work out regularly to keep in top condition. Simply said, being a couch potato could be dangerous for you and your heart. Leading a sedentary life can lead to high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, and other heart problems. Not only that, lack of activity can lead to obesity, another strain on the heart.
If you are a senior with some of these risk factors or a family history of heart disease, don’t panic. Luckily, many of the factors can be controlled by diet, medication, and exercise. But keeping up with regular physicals is most important to insure that your heart stays pumping strongly for years to come.
Contact Freedom Home Care to get the in-home care you need. We offer a variety of senior services to help you maintain your independence.