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Prevention and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Seniors

Heart disease is America’s No. 1 killer, but a significant number of these deaths are

preventable. The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that 43.7 million Americans 

age 60 and above have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease,

heart attack, stroke and heart failure. About two-thirds of cardiovascular disease deaths occur in people over 75.

Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “About 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent — the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.  To help prevent cardiovascular disease nationwide, February is designated as American Heart Month. A federally established annual event since 1964, American Heart Month is an important reminder to work with friends, family and senior loved ones to keep everyone’s heart healthy.

U.S. Cardiovascular Disease by the Numbers

The AHA notes that roughly 85.6 million Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease. Here are more U.S. statistics on cardiovascular disease:

  • On average, someone dies of cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds; about 2,303 deaths daily.

  • An estimated 46% of adults, or 116.4 million people, have high blood pressure.

  • On average, someone dies of a stroke every 3.70 minutes, which equates to almost 390 deaths each day.

  • On average, the first heart attack occurs at age 65 for men and age 72 for women.

  • Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives per year than cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined.

  • The direct/indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $351.2 billion between 2014 and 2015.

  • A 2016 study projected that direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease will reach $749 billion in 2035.

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

To gauge cardiovascular health nationwide, the AHA developed Life’s Simple 7® as a means to track seven key health factors and behaviors that affect a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke. Life’s Simple 7 are:

  1. Not smoking
  2. Physical activity
  3. Healthy diet
  4. Normal body weight
  5. Control of cholesterol
  6. Control of blood pressure
  7. Control of blood sugar

Of these health factors, tobacco use is considered one of the most preventable causes of death in the country. Remaining sedentary and a poor diet contribute to being overweight and raise the risk of declining heart health. The CDC finds that about half of Americans have at least one of these key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking. The CDC also adds excessive alcohol use to the lifestyle choices that elevate risk for heart disease.

How to Keep Cardiovascular Disease Under Control

Fortunately, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is possible through a number of positive lifestyle choices. To promote lasting change in a person’s health through everyday small steps, the AHA created a healthy living movement called Healthy for Good™. The movement’s approach is threefold: Eat Smart. Move More. Be Well. The Healthy for Good movement hopes to inspire people to choose heart-healthy foods, exercise regularly, manage stress, get adequate sleep and practice mindfulness.

Many older adults are surprised to find that they can prevent and significantly lessen the effects of cardiovascular disease by making even small adjustments in their daily routines such as managing blood pressure, staying physically active and eating nutrient-rich foods.

In-home Caregivers Help With Heart Health

The older people get, the harder it can be to oversee all aspects of health and well-being. Oftentimes, seniors need encouragement and respectful supervision to make the right choices to improve their heart health. Right at Home has found that people with cardiovascular disease benefit by staying in the familiarity of their own homes with the help of a professional caregiver to provide careful monitoring to prevent further complications.  Right at Home caregivers can assist cardiovascular disease patients in several ways:

  • Ambulation. Fatigue and shortness of breath from cardiovascular disease can limit a patient’s movement and lead to falls. Having an adult home care professional assist the patient with mobility is both a safeguard and a relief to the patient and their family.

  • Dietary intake. Cardiovascular patients are typically placed on a diet low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, and they may need help shopping for and preparing appropriate meals and snacks.

  • Medication reminders. Medications are extremely important for people dealing with cardiovascular conditions. Forgetting to take medications or taking them incorrectly can result in hospital readmission. An in-home caregiver can remind the patient to take medications and can run to the pharmacy for prescription refills or to pick up additional medications.

  • Personal care. Many heart and stroke patients feel weak and struggle with bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom. A trusted in-home caregiver can provide an extra hand with these daily tasks.

  • Home management. Because of decreased energy and mobility, people with cardiovascular disease may need help with cleaning, laundry, errands and a number of regular routines including pet care.

  • Rehabilitation. Attendance at cardiac or stroke rehab is crucial, and for more severe cases, required daily. Cardiac rehab programs have shown to decrease the odds of additional heart attacks. At-home caregivers can provide the patient with transportation to rehab appointments and can monitor the patient’s compliance with prescribed activities to do at home.

  • Follow-up with physician. Adult home care providers can drive cardiovascular patients to and from medical appointments, help record the physician’s suggestions, and communicate changes to the family.

While heart disease remains the No. 1 killer in America, as more and more people are aware of American Heart Month and follow a heart-healthy lifestyle, deaths from cardiovascular disease will continue to drop. That is news that will do everyone’s heart good. 

About Right at Home of Longwood/Lake Mary:

The Longwood/Lake Mary office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, LLC, serving communities throughout Seminole and Orange counties.  For more information, contact Right at Home of Longwood/Lake Mary at  at 321.295.7849 or by email at

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