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In the United States, Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. That’s because in the U.S. the average age for a first heart attack in men is 65. The statistics on heart disease in the United States are enough to make one sit up and take notice. Some of the most startling data shows: Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada, claiming more than 48,000 lives in 2012. These statistics highlight the extreme importance of preventing heart disease in adults of every age, and especially seniors. If you are the caregiver of a senior, here are the five most important things you need to know to help them live a heart-healthy life: 1. Make simple lifestyle modifications. There are standard strategies that every doctor recommends to live a heart healthy life, which can also help to avoid other chronic disease like diabetes. They include:
  • Avoiding smoking and using tobacco products.
  • Being physically active every day.
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar healthy.
2. Eat healthy fats, not trans fats. Bad fats - like trans fats - like to clog the arteries of the heart, which is not good for heart health. Good fats, like saturated, polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats help to keep our skin and hair healthy. Trans fats are known to increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke by raising bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol levels (HDL). Trans fats are most often found in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine, and fried fast foods to add flavor and texture. Guide your loved one toward healthy foods that are low in sugar and salt and high in nutrition. 3. Believe it or not dental health is a good indication of heart health. People who have gum disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Bacteria in the mouth that causes gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Help your loved one to brush his or her teeth and gums regularly. Use a soft toothbrush that won’t compromise loose teeth or sensitive gums. Make sure that you schedule regular dentist appointments as well. 4. We know sleep is good for many things, but it is especially important for heart health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, one study of 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. If your loved one has difficulty sleeping, consult with his or her physician. It may be due to an underlying health condition, stress or depression. Make sure that the bedroom is quiet and restful and a good temperature for sleeping. 5. Avoid smoke! Your loved one should not be smoking, nor should they be exposed to secondhand smoke. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year. If your loved one smokes, enroll them in a smoking cessation program immediately and consult with his or her physician for support and guidance. If you need support caring for a loved one, call us. Our trained caregivers can provide support to fit your schedule and provide you with peace of mind. We understand aging and we can help your loved one age in a healthy manner.
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