Elderly people with heart disease need help with a new daily routine, time for rest, walks, exercise, and taking medications on time. They need support during therapy and rehabilitation.
Depending on the diagnosis and condition of the patient, help with household chores may be needed. For patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD), it is important to provide a calm living environment and minimize worry and stress.
What do I need to know about cardiovascular disease?
You need to be aware of the symptoms that cause cardiovascular disease and be able to recognize them if an exacerbation occurs. The group of cardiovascular diseases includes various pathologies of the heart and blood vessels, so it is important that a person is properly diagnosed, prescribed quality treatment.
Coronary artery disease
Occurs because of changes in the heart muscle – the myocardium, when the arteries are unable to pass the necessary amount of blood and oxygen, which can lead to myocardial infarction. A pre-infarction condition may be indicated by:
- Compressive pain in the heart area, radiating to the left side of the torso;
- discomfort in the arms, left shoulder;
- shortness of breath;
- profuse perspiration;
- loss of consciousness.
Cerebrovascular disease causes abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain and, as a consequence, cerebral circulation disorders. May cause a stroke. Cerebrovascular disease symptoms:
- sharp asymmetry of the face (skewness);
- numbness of the arm or leg on one side of the body;
- confusion of consciousness;
- impaired or slurred speech;
- severe headache;
- loss of consciousness.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Occurs because of constricted blood vessels and arteries that cannot carry enough blood and oxygen to the heart, causing excessive heartbeats. Hypertension leads to heart attack, stroke, hypertensive crisis and heart failure. The main symptom of hypertension is a blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg. The higher the pressure, the greater the damage to the heart, blood vessels, brain, and kidneys.
Weakness of the heart muscle, the inability of the heart to pump blood, in which all organs and systems of the body are affected. Symptoms of heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath (even at rest);
- Constant weakness and increased fatigue;
- Rapid heartbeat;
Damage to the heart valves as a result of a streptococcal infection. Symptoms of rheumatoid heart disease:
- feeling of shortness of breath;
- Constant fatigue;
- abnormal heart rhythm;
- increase in body temperature;
- swelling of the joints;
Relatives need to know the main signs of rheumatic heart disease in an elderly loved one in order to help take medication in time and recognize an exacerbation of the disease or an approaching heart attack.
If one or more alarming symptoms of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or hypertension are observed, the condition with rheumatic heart disease has worsened significantly, it is necessary to call an ambulance as soon as possible or take the relative to the hospital yourself. During a heart attack, life depends on help being given in time.
While the ambulance is on its way, it is important to give the patient complete rest, to allow him or her to sit or lie down. The room should be cool. If there are medications prescribed by the cardiologist in case the condition worsens, it is necessary that the person take them. Also, by calling the ambulance, you can get a doctor’s advice on stabilizing the patient’s condition for the arrival of the paramedics.
Do I need regular consultations with a cardiologist if I have heart disease?
In the presence of heart disease requires regular consultation with a cardiologist, who determines the cause of CVDs, selects therapy to stabilize the patient and prevent complications. At routine appointments, the doctor observes the dynamics of the disease and, if necessary, adjusts the treatment to prevent the deterioration of the elderly person’s condition.
Help an older person get the heart tests he or she needs
An elderly person may need help getting a heart exam ordered by a cardiologist. To confirm the diagnosis and assess the condition of the cardiovascular system, you may need to do:
- electrocardiogram (ECG);
- Ultrasound diagnosis (ultrasound) of the heart;
- a detailed blood test;
- blood test for cholesterol;
- bicycle ergometry (ECG under load).
Depending on the presence of additional health problems, your doctor may prescribe other tests, such as tests for hormones in case of obesity, and tests for creatinine and urea levels in the blood in case of chronic kidney disease.
Some tests should be repeated from time to time to monitor the progress of the disease. You should also help your loved one get regular blood pressure or blood sugar measurements, which are important indicators that affect a person’s overall well-being.
Why is it necessary to monitor chronic diseases in the elderly?
In the elderly, it is imperative that chronic diseases be monitored. There are pathologies associated with the development of other diseases, such as obesity or hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. However, there are many people who have more than one or two chronic conditions. Treatment of such patients is complicated by the incompatibility of medications and the need to adjust the therapy prescribed by different doctors. The mutual negative effect of several diseases may lead to complications and accelerate the development of heart failure.
In addition, it is worth taking care to protect the elderly from infectious diseases, such as seasonal flu, which can be fatal for someone with a heart condition. Be sure to ask your cardiologist about the possibility of vaccination and get vaccinated.
How important is it to take medications on time?
Medications for CVDs are important to take on time, because therapy prescribed to an older person with chronic heart disease is an effective way to avoid life-threatening complications. It is also necessary to treat related diseases: a patient with diabetes should regularly take antidiabetic drugs, with hypertension requires constant control of blood pressure and lifelong drug therapy. At risk of CVD complications, the doctor may prescribe medications to prevent or slow down the development of vascular pathology. It is necessary to control that the patient takes all medications, otherwise there is no way to avoid complications.
What to do about an elderly person’s bad habits?
If an elderly person has bad habits, it is necessary to help to get rid of them. After all, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcohol abuse are the main causes of CVD.
Tobacco has a negative impact on the cardiovascular system and provokes the development of cardiac pathologies. Giving up smoking and alcohol, which can lead to heart rhythm disturbances, is important to improve the patient’s condition.
You also need to change your diet, adding fruits and vegetables to it. Make sure that the patient consumes more dairy products, fish and eggs. Food should not be fried, and boiled or steamed. The amount of salt and sugar in meals should be reduced.
Can older persons with heart disease do physical exercises?
Older people with heart disease can do physical exercises. A cardiologist will recommend the amount and intensity of exercise. However, even if it is difficult for an elderly person to move, it is necessary to encourage him to be more active: walk in the fresh air, do simple household chores. Movement is important not only for the heart, but also for the health of the whole body.
Why is it important to always be with an elderly person who has a heart condition?
It is important to always be there for the elderly person who has heart disease. CVDs can cause depression, anxiety, decreased motivation and activity, and depression. To support your loved one, you need to be there, help them adjust to the changes associated with the disease and the limitations it has caused, encourage them to be physically active, talk more and create a positive attitude.