February is American Heart Month, an ideal time to commit to making small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health. Know your cardiovascular disease risk.
Cardiovascular disease (also known as heart disease) remains the leading global cause of death for men and women, with more than 17.3 million deaths each year. That number is expected to rise to more than 23 million by 2030.
There are several types of cardiovascular disease, including:
- Heart failure: sometimes called congestive heart failure, this means the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should.
- Arrhythmia: an abnormal rhythm of the heart.
- Heart valve problems: these arise when heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should.
- Heart attack: when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot.
- Ischemic stroke: when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. The most likely cause of this is uncontrolled hypertension (blood pressure).
Who is at Risk?
There are several cardiovascular disease risk factors. Some can be changed, and some cannot. And, having more than one risk factor means the overall chance of cardiovascular disease is much higher.
Risk factors that cannot be changed are:
- Your age – risk increases as you age.
- Your gender – before the age of 60, men are at greater risk than women. Women’s risk increases after menopause.
- Your family history – children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. And most people with a strong family history have one or more other risk factors.
But there are other risk factors that you can change or manage, including:
- Elevated levels of blood cholesterol
- Raised triglycerides with low HDL-cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Being inactive
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- High stress levels
At FirstLight Home Care, we work with our clients to create individualized care plans that promote well-being and a heart-healthy lifestyle. If you are a family caregiver and need assistance with your aging senior, our FirstLight caregivers can assist with a variety of needs such as:
- Dressing and hygiene to prepare for doctor appointments
- Providing transportation to and from check-ups, rehabilitation or social activities
- Support and companionship before, during and after appointments
- Ensuring clients follow care plans from their doctor
- Medication reminders
- Shopping for foods that are healthy or those that a doctor has prescribed
- Meal preparation according to healthier guidelines
- Help with moving more, whether it’s going for a walk or just repositioning
You’re never too young to start heart-healthy living. If you are over 40, or if you have multiple risk factors, work closely with your doctor to address your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Learn more from The American Heart Association.
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