February Marks American Heart Month

Megan Ray  |  February 2, 2015

Adults living in senior care communities recognize the importance of heart health, but government officials have asked all Americans to place a special emphasis on cardiovascular health this February. During American Heart Month, it's important to take special care of your cardiovascular health by recognizing the risks and making active lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease in the future.

Cardiovascular disease remains one of the top health concerns for those living in the U.S. It is the leading cause of death for Americans and costs the country nearly $300 billion each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While there are several ways for those living in retirement communities to prevent heart disease, remaining educated on the topic is one of the most effective strategies to improve heart health and senior care. This American Heart Month, educate yourself about the disease, its forms and how to keep it from hampering your life.

Recognizing your risk
Anyone is at risk for cardiovascular disease, but as adults grow older, their chances get higher. Certain factors that may contribute to heart disease cannot be changed, including age, genetics and certain pre-existing health conditions like diabetes. However, it's especially important for these adults to monitor the lifestyle factors they can change to further reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

The AHA noted several risk factors that may contribute to poor cardiovascular health, including:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Adults - especially those over the age of 55 - should closely monitor these risks, eliminating unhealthy habits and adopting better ones instead. This may include picking up a new exercise routine, such as walking or yoga, eating healthier and closely monitoring blood pressure. It's crucial that older adults adopt these changes - the AHA noted that men's risk for having a heart attack rises significantly in middle age, while that of women does the same after menopause.

Know the signs
Altering your lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease is important, but recognizing the signs that may indicate an attack are equally important. Adults living in senior living communities should educate themselves about the common signs that indicate heart attack or stroke. As a general rule of thumb, any sudden change in physical condition - such as instant dizziness, vision changes, speech difficulties or sharp pain - should be reported immediately, as they may be an indication of heart disease. With a heart attack, people often feel sudden chest discomfort and shortness of breath, whereas strokes are marked by sudden and drastic physical changes.

Spread the word 
Keep heart health at the forefront of your family and friends' minds this February by spreading the word across your social networks. Load up on helpful links pertaining to heart disease, like tips from the AHA or engaging virtual games that better educate people on heart health. Consider throwing a "Heart Party" this February at the retirement community. Gather your friends and fellow residents, then treat them to tasty snacks that are good for their hearts. You can also have a few games that offer fun prizes, like trivia about heart disease or board games pertaining to best health practices.

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