Tips to Stay Heart Healthy for a Lifetime

HeartIn 2023129 individuals in North Dakota lost their lives due to heart disease.* The age-adjusted death rate for heart disease in the state was 152.8 per 100,000 residents.  This is 12.08% lower than the overall heart disease death rate in the United States (173.8 per 100,000), but heart disease remains a significant health concern, and knowing how to promote heart health and prevent disease is still crucial. No one wants themselves or a loved one to be one of the 129+ in 2024.

Heart disease is an umbrella term that covers several types of heart conditions. There are some risk factors you can control—like lifestyle choices—and others that you can’t, like family history and genetics. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which kills nearly 380,000 Americans annually. Other heart diseases include heart arrythmia, enlarged heart, mal-functioning heart valves, infections, fluid retention and inflammatory conditions.

Early detection of heart problems or warning signs of an impending heart attack are not always easy to recognize and can vary from person to person. Knowing the risk factors and how many you or a loved one has can heighten your awareness. Each additional risk factor increases your chance of developing heart disease. They include:

  • High blood pressure &/or high cholesterol
  • Prediabetes or diabetes
  • Smoking and drinking
  • No regular physical activity
  • A family history of early heart disease
  • Unhealthy eating habits & obesity
  • Age 55 or older for women or age 45 or older for men

As you can see, many of the risk factors are lifestyle choices that can be changed, preferably before a heart problem develops, but also during or after. It’s important to know your unique risks and warning signs and share them with your loved ones.

Warning signs that are often ignored and can differ from person to person but are usually the same each succeeding time a problem manifests itself include:

  • Shortness of breath (more often in women)
  • Increasing or a sudden onset of fatigue
  • Pressure &/or pain in the chest (more often in men)
  • Arm, abdominal, back or jaw pain
  • Dizziness or mobility struggles
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Leg swelling

Lessening your risks for heart disease and/or regaining your health after a heart attack can depend on similar lifestyle changes followed based on the advice of your doctor:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week
  • Monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and keeping them in a normal range
  • Eating healthy meals that are high in fish, vegetables and fruit
  • Practicing stress management
  • Monitoring heart medications that may come from several sources.

Mental and emotional health can be an important consideration after a first heart attack or even a diagnosis of heart disease. You and your loved one can feel anxious and concerned about possibly facing death. You may wonder if you or they will ever feel healthy again. You may have a difficult time expressing your need for help. During recovery, it’s important to also focus on mental and emotional health.

Taking care of your heart is good for your brain. That’s because many of the risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, are also related to brain diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Having an expert from Dakota Home care as part of your treatment team of professionals, including your primary care provider, exercise specialists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and counselors, can help to guide you and your loved one through the rehabilitation process and keep channels of communication open. We can accompany you to doctor visits to help make sense of test results and instructions. We can help you put together a list of questions ahead of time that you might have about heart problems. Dakota Home Care’s trained staff of caregivers can bring those and other concerns to a doctor’s attention.

Dakota Home Care has trained professionals who can provide a wide range of services for caregivers that also enhance the quality of life for a  person with heart disease. Contact us online or call us at (877) 691-0015 to schedule an in-home visit with one of our registered nurses. Together we’ll evaluate which of our services will be most helpful.

*If you’d like more detailed information or other health statistics related specifically to North Dakota, you can visit:

 

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