As the human body ages and progresses further into late adulthood, various systems and organs within the body do not function as optimally as they used to - and the cardiovascular system is no exception. Aside from frailty, a lack of physical activity, unhealthy diets, and underlying health conditions are all risk factors that increase a person's chance of developing heart disease.
The occurrence of a heart attack or heart failure becomes more likely. These are life-threatening diseases that need to be taken seriously. Older adults often neglect their physical health to their detriment. It is vital that they regularly monitor their heart's activity along with a lifestyle change. This is where Portable ECG monitors can play a role. Thus, if a problem arises, it can be identified and treated as soon as possible. In this piece, we'll examine the precautionary measures that older adults can take in the case of a heart attack or heart failure.
Key Facts About Heart Disease According To The World Health Organization:
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
- Over three-quarters of cardiovascular-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
- In 2019, more than 16 million people died from cardiovascular diseases, representing 32% of all global deaths. A majority of these fatalities were as a result of heart attacks and strokes.
What is a Heart Attack?
Heart attacks have become known as one of the most common acute coronary syndromes (i.e., conditions that result in sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart). They occur when blood flow to the heart is reduced or temporarily blocked off. These blockages are caused by a build-up of fats known as plaque. When a heart attack occurs, a person will feel an extreme pain in their chest or upper body and shortness of breath.
More often than not, high cholesterol levels result in plaque deposits that block the coronary arteries. Hence, older adults are encouraged to maintain a healthy diet and control their intake of saturated fats.
What is Heart Failure?
While heart attacks and heart failure have the same risk factors, the two aren't the same. Heart attacks occur due to blockages in the coronary arteries, while the latter is due to the heart being unable to sufficiently pump enough blood throughout the rest of the body and vital organs.
Symptoms experienced include constant fatigue, especially after partaking in physical activity, and swollen legs and ankles. Causes of the condition can vary and may include
coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, or heart arrhythmia.
ECGs to Monitor Heart Health
If an older adult is suspected of experiencing heart disease, i.e., complaining about symptoms such as chest discomfort, pain that spreads to the arm, jaw pain, swollen legs, extreme fatigue, or other symptoms, they should consider going for an electrocardiogram.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG or EKG, is a procedure performed by a physician or cardiologist to examine the heart's electrical activity and rhythm. This test will help a patient understand whether a cardiac abnormality is present. If there are complications, the doctor can recommend the appropriate treatment that needs to be considered going forward.
During the ECG, a patient will be required to lie down. Patches, known as electrodes, will be placed onto their body and attached to a machine via ECG leads. A monitor will display the current resting heart rate. The data recorded will be printed out and interpreted by a medical professional. These results will show whether a patient has recently experienced mild to severe heart attacks and other heart conditions.
Portable ECG monitors are usually recommended to help older adults keep track of their cardiovascular health. This way, they can still travel knowing that they will be alerted if a problem arises. The LOOKEE® Personal ECG / EKG Heart Monitor allows older adults to monitor irregular heartbeats that occur as a result of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AFib), premature ventricular contraction (PVC), bradycardia & tachycardia.
The device comes with electrode pads that allow for a complete 5-minute ECG, just like one done in a doctor's room. With the built-in phone and PC app, seniors can get accurate readings of their heart's performance on the spot. They can also convert the data into a PDF report to send to their doctor via email.
What to Do in The Case of A Serious Heart Attack
A severe heart attack can leave a muscle within the heart extensively damaged. This would, in turn, render the heart unable to effectively pump blood throughout the rest of the body and result in heart failure. Here's how you can respond in the event of a heart attack.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number - do not overlook any symptoms.
- Chew and swallow an aspirin
- Take nitroglycerin if prescribed.
- Begin CPR if the person is unconscious
- Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if the person stays unconscious.