Keeping your heart healthy is incredibly vital to ensuring you’re able to continue living a long, fulfilling life.
The human heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body and plays a significant role in keeping you in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, over 5 million Americans are diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF causes your heart to stop pumping blood at maximum efficiency. If not treated quickly and appropriately, your heart will slowly begin to deteriorate in efficiency, which can cause significant problems for your health as you age. Learn more about the causes of congestive heart failure, how to diagnose it, and more importantly, how to avoid it.
Who Is Prone to Developing CHF?
While people of all ages have developed congestive heart failure, the most affected demographic is people over the age of 60. Changes that happen with age may increase a person’s risk of developing CHF. A major cause of heart disease is the buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries over many years. This can lead to common medical conditions that can damage the heart muscle including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attacks. The good news is there are things you can do to delay, lower, avoid or possibly reverse your risk.
If you’re 60 years and older, you’re more prone to heart failure, especially if you’re a regular tobacco user, or you’re eating unhealthily and failing to exercise. These bad habits can all make your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body. Congestive heart failure causes are often related to unhealthy habits that can be easily avoided.
There are measures you can take to ensure you’re living a healthy, mindful lifestyle. Give your heart the best chance of staying strong and healthy by taking care of your body now.
How Heart Failure Works
Contrary to how it may sound, heart failure doesn’t mean the heart has stopped working. The blood moves through the heart at a slower rate than usual which causes more pressure in the heart. CHF is diagnosed when the heart isn’t working efficiently. There are four general congestive heart failure stages; ranging from A (at-risk of heart failure) to D (systolic heart failure and presence of advanced symptoms after receiving optimum medical care). If you have stage A congestive heart failure you’re at risk for developing heart failure. However, you can still take precautions by exercising more, eating foods that help your heart, and quitting smoking. Stage D congestive heart failure is when you have systolic heart failure. If you have stage D congestive heart failure, you may need to consider more drastic treatment options, such as a heart transplant or inotropic drugs.
Heart failure causes the chambers of your heart to stretch out to effectively carry blood throughout your body. While this acts as a short-term solution, over time your artery walls will begin to weaken and stiffen. This can lead to your kidneys holding on to water and salt, which can cause fluid to build up at various parts of your body. Older adults with congestive heart failure need to reduce their sodium intake. It’s also important that you weigh yourself daily. Rapid weight gain can be a sign of fluid retention. Speak with your doctor and discuss getting an ejection fraction measurement to ensure you’re in good health.
Staying Healthy as a Senior
If you’re at risk of developing CHF or have been diagnosed with CHF, you can still enjoy a comfortable and healthy life. Older people especially need to be mindful of their daily habits. Continuing to provide your body with the nutrients it needs while avoiding heavy tobacco or alcohol use will decrease your chances of developing CHF. Stay active even if you’re too tired. As you get older, it’s especially important to routinely check in with your doctor and have your heart monitored. Prevention is key as you age. Although it may be scary to talk about your heart condition, there is hope. Don’t lose hope; instead practice leading a healthy, mindful life to live longer and have a better quality of life.