Heart failure is a common but serious condition that requires medical care. Approximately 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Heart failure is a health condition in which:
- the heart is unable to pump enough blood;
- the heart is unable to fill with enough blood; or
- the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force.
“Heart failure develops over time as the heart's pumping action grows weaker,” according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “The condition can affect the right side of the heart only, or it can affect both sides of the heart. Right-side heart failure occurs if the heart can't pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Left-side heart failure occurs if the heart can't pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.”
Heart failure currently has no cure. However, treatments—such as medication and lifestyle changes—can help people living with heart failure lead longer and active lives. Conditions that damage or overwork the heart muscle—such as ischemic heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, heart valve disease, and cardiomyopathy—can cause heart failure. Alcohol or drug abuse, thyroid disorders, and cancer treatments (radiation and chemotherapy) can also lead to heart failure.
The most common signs and symptoms of heart failure are:
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, factors that increase risk for hear failure include:
- Aging can weaken the heart muscle. Heart failure is a leading cause of hospital stays among people on Medicare.
- African Americans are more likely to have heart failure than people of other races.
- Excess weight puts strain on the heart. Being overweight also increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Heart attack. Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack and can weaken the heart muscle and its functioning.
Are you and your senior parent ready to pursue heart-healthy living and reduce the risk for heart failure? Check out Mayo Clinic’s heart-healthy tips to prevent heart complications and promote healthy living:
- Control your and your senior parent’s portion size. Use a small plate or bowl to help control your and your senior parent’s portion size. Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed, or fast foods.
- Fill your and your senior parent’s plate with more fruits and vegetables. Fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits, low-sodium canned vegetables, and canned fruit packed in juice or water are good sources of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories, and are rich in dietary fiber. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your aging parent’s refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in their kitchen so that they’ll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredients.
- Opt for whole grains. Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Who grain products include whole wheat flour, 100 percent whole grain bread, high-fiber cereal, and other whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain pasta, and oatmeal.
- Swap high-fat meats with low-fat protein sources. Incorporate lean meats, such as poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs into your senior parent’s diet. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, are also good sources of protein.
- Reduce the sodium in your and your senior parent’s food. Consuming high amounts of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and heart complications. Steer clear of table salt, canned soup, prepared dinners, tomato juice, and condiments. Instead, integrate herbs, spices, and salt-free seasonings into your senior parent’s meals. If your senior parent enjoys the convenience of canned and frozen meals, opt for reduced-salt versions.
- Limit unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats can lead to high blood cholesterol levels and buildup of plaques in your arteries, which can increase your and your senior parent’s risk of heart complications. You can limit unhealthy fats by swapping butter, margarine, and other fats with olive, canola, vegetable, and nut oils.
- Plan ahead and create daily menus. Healthy eating starts with planning. Help your senior parent plan and prepare healthy meals throughout the week. This helps reduce uncertainty during mealtime and takes the guessing out of healthy eating.
- Exercise. Exercise helps to reduce risk of multiple chronic diseases and heart complications.
If your senior parent lives alone and you’re concerned that they’re not leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, call SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona, Riverside, or Anaheim Hills. Our in-home caregivers can ensure that your senior parent receives high-quality, compassionate care. SYNERGY HomeCare’s in-home caregivers provide a wide range of home care services, including:
- Adapting your parent’s home environment to enhance safety and independence
- Providing transportation for medical, community, and social appointments
- Providing reminders for medication
- Providing enhanced social activities appropriate to the needs of your parent
- Offering meal planning and preparation to ensure good nutritional support
- Providing personal care services including grooming, personal hygiene, and dressing
- Helping with household tasks
About SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills
SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills is the name you can trust in Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Tustin, Santa Ana, Orange and Placentia for personal home care. SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills is part of a national franchise of non-medical home care offices dedicated to providing exceptional and affordable service to anyone of any age. SYNERGY HomeCare caregivers are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, to those in need - including seniors, expectant moms, those suffering from sports injuries and debilitating illnesses, and more. SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona & Riverside can be found online at http://www.synergyhomecare.com/agencies/ca/anaheim-hills/ca25 . The location also hosts active social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Ken and Anna can be reached at 714- 706-1613 and [email protected] .