Eating healthy food is important right from babyhood. Unhealthy and obese children may become unhealthy and obese adults. However, as people age, their cardiovascular system undergoes changes, and it becomes more important than ever to maintain a healthy heart through proper cardiovascular care. For example, as you get older, your heart may not beat as fast during exercise or stressful situations as it did when you were younger.
Some of the most common changes to the cardiovascular system that occur with age are:
• Arteriosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries
• Thick heart muscles and stiff blood vessels
• Thick valves that leak and inhibit proper flood flow in and out of the heart
• Sections of the heart may increase in size
• Chemotherapy or thyroid disease may weaken heart muscles
In many cases, the problems older people have with their cardiovascular system are caused by disease, and there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower or even reverse the risk of developing heart disease.
There are many different types of heart disease. Fatty build-up called plaque on the inside of the artery wall is the most common. It reduces the space that is required for the normal flow of blood. This may cause a heart attack, a stroke or leg pain. It is not a normal part of aging, but reflects dietary choices over the years. Some ways to avoid atherosclerosis are:
• Quit smoking or don’t start
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Get regular exercise every day
• Manage stress
• Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum
• Carefully control diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
The symptoms of heart disease may be barely noticeable, so it is important to have regular check-ups as you age. Chest pain may be considered a common symptom of a heart attack, but this may not be the case with older people. Some symptoms older people should look for are:
• Shortness of breath at any time
• Lightheadedness, confusion and dizziness
• Nausea or vomiting
• Cold sweats
• Swelling in the feet, stomach, legs or neck
• Pain in the arms, shoulders, jaw or back
• Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Visiting a doctor regularly for cardiovascular screening as you age is one of the most important things you can do to learn about your risks and healthy lifestyle choices. During a consultation with our specialist at Cardiac Associates of North Jersey, you may be able to learn if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease. You may be tested for cholesterol, body mass index and blood sugar levels. You may receive instructions and advice about how to quit smoking, how much exercise you need, how to reduce unhealthy fat in your diet and what to do if you think you are having a heart attack.
Even though an older heart can pump blood as strongly as a younger heart and the number of heart beats per minute does not change with age, cardiovascular care is still extremely important as you age. Over the years, lifestyle choices can cause disease and health conditions that put more strain on your cardiovascular system. Cardiac Associates of North Jersey is located in Oakland. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to learn more.