Malaysia Healthcare Chronicles

heart health

After years of service, especially for senior citizens, the heart may start to act up—at that point, you might have a problem on your hands.

If you live with a senior citizen, one of your biggest concerns might be their cardiovascular health, as an ageing heart begins to slow down, lose its elasticity, and become more vulnerable.

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death among older men and women. So, here are some tips on how to take care of your ageing heart.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks—perhaps it’s time for the old dogs to drop the old tricks! Years of bad habits can mean trouble for your cardiovascular health. Prolonged smoking can cause high blood pressure, irregularities in your heartbeat, and tighten major arteries.

If smoking is not your vice, then maybe relaxing a little too much may do you harm. Decades of a sedentary lifestyle could cause your heart to lose its muscle strength and make your arteries less flexible. While hitting the gym may seem daunting for an older adult, a regular walk in the park will get your ageing heart pumping.

Apart from losing weight and decreasing your cholesterol levels, exercise is also one of the best ways to handle stress.

You may think you know everything about handling stress at your age, but stress is a contributing factor to heart diseases and may strike when you least expect it.

Stressful situations elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, which could easily spiral into chest pains, also known as angina. Stress could also encourage bad habits, such as indulging in unhealthy food or too much alcohol.

Your best protection against heart diseases is to equip yourself with knowledge. Knowing the symptoms before a heart attack or a stroke can help you get the urgent assistance you need and may even save your life! While women may have a lower risk of heart diseases than men, their risk factor becomes as high as men after their menopause.

Women are less likely to have the classic signs of a heart attack such as a ‘squeezing’ pain in the left area of the chest.

Instead, a symptom of a heart attack for women may be mistaken for indigestion with pain occurring in the upper abdominal area and excessive sweating, which is common for men as well.

Sometimes, even the most subtle symptoms can be a red flag—such as feeling tired or shortness of breath. If you are feeling down and need to catch your breath more frequently than usual, there is no harm in letting your close relative or caretaker know and seeking medical attention.

Your heart has been pumping for decades. Without proper care, it may weaken to the point that your oxygen-rich blood may not reach the other organs in time. This may be a sombre wake-up call, especially if you have been in good physical health for many years.

However, caring for your ageing heart should not begin only when things go wrong. Practising healthy habits, such as exercise and eating right, will strengthen your ageing heart even in your senior years!

Leading a healthy lifestyle is even more crucial if you are suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes, as both diseases may influence the health of your heart. Have a frank discussion with your doctor if you have any concerns or if you are interested in knowing the ways to best manage these diseases while still maintaining your cardiovascular health.

With new technology, there are many medications, surgical procedures, and healthcare assistance that can help you regain control over your cardiovascular health.

Your golden years do not have to keep you on your toes. Your ageing heart may not be as strong as it used to be, but you can keep it healthy and look forward to a long and happy life!

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