Heart disease can happen to anyone. For some people lifestyle will determine whether they are susceptible to unhealthy heart conditions. On the other hand, having healthy habits can prevent or even reverse many types of heart disease. Here is a list of some of the most significant causes of heart diseases, and some tips on combating them.
1. Unhealthy diet
Healthy eating habits are good for every part of your body, especially your heart. When you consume too many calories, your body stores them as fat. Fat will turn into big roadblocks (or arterial buildups) in your circulatory system, making it hard for your heart to pump blood efficiently throughout your body. Since your metabolism slows as you age, your diet can drastically change your heart health. Make sure you and your loved ones eat lean, high protein, low sodium meals.
Family caregiver tip: If your loved one is unhappy with their new meal plan, use positive reinforcement with occasional small treats.
Another cause of arterial buildup is smoking. When you smoke, you also deplete your body of much-needed oxygen, which makes your heart work much harder. Try to cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke, or even quit altogether!
Family caregiver tip: It is hard to get another person to stop smoking, but you can encourage them to start by cutting out at least one cigarette a day. Also, try to steer clear of second-hand smoke.
3. Lack of exercise
Exercising increases your heart rate and pumps blood through your body, which discourages plaque from blocking your arteries. You don’t have to run a marathon to exercise effectively; you just need to get your heart working.
Family caregiver tip: Exercise is possible, even if you loved one is in a wheelchair. Look for seated and low-impact ways to get your loved one moving.
4. Too many drugs
Your body reacts to every chemical you give it. Be attentive to your consumption of over-the counter and prescription medication. Make sure to consult your doctor when mixing medications, or if you are concerned about your dosage. When your body is overloaded with foreign and harsh chemicals, it can be bad for your heart.
Family caregiver tip: Keep a watchful eye on your loved one’s pill intake. When people are sick, they often become confused about dosing, or forget to take their medication altogether.
5. Bacteria, Viruses and Parasites
We all want to avoid infection, especially infection in our hearts. An unclean or unsafe home environment can lead to severe cases of bacteria, viruses and parasites. Keep your home clean, and have it checked for mold and other hazards that can accumulate between your walls.
Family caregiver tip: If you loved one lives alone make sure their home environment is also clean and safe.
6. Stress and Exhaustion
Stressful situations are part of life, and you will become tired every so often. However, prolonged or chronic stress and exhaustion are hard on your heart. If you are constantly stressed or can’t remember the last time you had a break, configure your schedule or routine to have some down time.
Family caregiver tip: We can’t say it enough: respite, respite respite! Family caregivers have a lot to do, and not enough time to complete everything. Share your family caregiving role with another family member, or get a compassionate caregiver to fill in while you run errands or put your feet up.
7. Rigorous Medical Treatments
If you have recently undergone chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or even CAT scans, be sure to keep a heart-conscious attitude. These procedures are necessary, but are hard on your heart. Be especially careful to let your heart recover from these strenuous treatments
Family caregiver tip: Your loved one may insist on taking care of themselves after a hospital stay or an outpatient procedure. While their desire to stay out of your way may seem considerate to them, they are actually making recovery harder for themselves. Be there to help your family member after a medical treatment.
8. Excessive alcohol and caffeine
While some studies have shown small amounts of alcohol can be good for your heart, excessive alcohol or caffeine use is always bad. Caffeine accelerates your heart rate unnaturally, causing high blood pressure. Alcohol decelerates your heart rate and can eventually clog your arteries. Both caffeinated and alcoholic drinks often have high sugar content, while is also bad for heart health.
Family caregiver tip: If your loved one has a caffeine or alcohol dependency, encourage them to slowly reduce their intake of these chemicals. Be there to encourage them along their way.
9. High blood pressure
High blood pressure is directly linked to heart problems. The best ways to prevent it are to eat well, keep an exercise regimen, and avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine. Keep an eye on your cholesterol level as you age.
Family caregiver tip: Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure, so get the respite you need to be stress-free.
10. Congenital Conditions
You cannot avoid any congenital heart conditions; they are part of your life-long health. However, you can keep healthy habits to avoid your heart condition from becoming more complicated.
Family caregiver tip: If you are a parent of a baby or child with a heart condition, their heart health is constantly on your mind. Teach them good heart health habits to keep them safe and healthy throughout their life.