According to the National Institute on Aging, heart disease is the most common cause of death among older people in the United States. Seniors are at a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and coronary heart disease (also known as heart disease) and heart failure than those who are younger. Heart illness is also a significant source of disability for millions of older individuals due to its impact on their ability to function efficiently and enjoy life. Sean Marchese, a registered nurse with 15 years of direct patient care experience and a background in oncology clinical trials, discusses the warning signs that heart disease patients should be aware of.
1 — How Does Heart Disease Affect Seniors
“As the heart ages, risk of heart illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes, or coronary artery disease rises significantly in both men and women,” Marchese explains. “In older people, delicate cardiac tissue, particularly the left ventricle, becomes stiffer and less flexible. As we get older, exercise becomes more essential since it can minimize the deterioration of cardiac tissue and maintain levels of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Cardiothoracic training helps to keep our hearts beating at a faster rate; this keeps the arterial walls elastic and healthy.”
2 — Decreased Blood Flow to Extremities
Many seniors experience some numbness and tingling in their feet and hands, or may notice that their toes and fingers become colder more often. While these symptoms are familiar, they aren’t usual, suggesting potential vessel damage. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque inside arterial walls that causes them to stiffen and narrow. As blood vessels constrict, tissues in the feet and hands don’t receive enough oxygen-rich blood. These symptoms may be shrugged off by older individuals since they are dressed more warmly, but they should also discuss their heart health with their doctor.
3 — Tightness in your Chest
“It’s possible that your uncle was completely healthy and just had a little heart attack. Although chest discomfort is a well-known sign of heart disease, many older people may not give much attention to a little tightness in their chest. Emotional stress or Physical activity might induce chest tightness, but it should be worrisome if it happens frequently or alone without exercise. Angina includes chest discomfort and tension, which could be an indication of early heart disease and should not be ignored,” says Dr. Marchese.
4 — Leg Swelling
Edema, swelling in the legs, is caused by an accumulation of fluid in body tissues as a result of inadequate drainage. A vascular system defect is the most common reason for edema and might suggest congestive heart failure. Because leg edema can develop if you’re overweight after a long day on your feet or if you ate a particularly salty meal, some older individuals may overlook it thinking it’s nothing serious. However, leg edema can also indicate more severe problems such as deep-vein thrombosis, a blood clot could cause pain, swelling and redness in one leg and may dislodge into the lungs. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs and causes shortness of breath, wheezing, chest or back discomfort, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate. If leg veins are weak, blood flow to the heart is restricted, causing fluid accumulation in remote tissue. Varicose veins are an indication of damaged or fragile veins.