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Recognizing Risk Factors for Heart Attack in the Elderly

If you are charged with the care of an elderly loved one, you obviously want to know about any medical conditions that are more common with age. Heart attacks are some of the most abundant among them, and the short- and long-term implications can put a lot of stress on family and caregivers. Free home healthcare services may be available to provide additional support or assistance if you are covered under DOL EEOICPA or RECA, but you may also benefit from recognizing some of the risk factors for heart attack.

In short, a myocardial infarction occurs when there is a blockage within the primary arteries that supply blood to the heart. The heart is deprived of vital oxygen and nutrients, suffering permanent damage.

The American Heart Association breaks down risk factors for heart attack into three different groups.

Major Factors You Cannot Change

Though there is nothing you can do to alleviate some issues, including age, awareness is helpful.

Gender: Men are more likely to suffer a heart attack, and at an earlier age as compared to women. However, women are at a greater risk of a fatal infarction.

Family History: An elderly person may be at risk if a parent or sibling had a heart attack at a younger age, prior to 55 years or for men and 65 for women.

Controlling Some Factors Can Reduce the Risk

There are several issues you do have control over that can reduce the likelihood of heart attack, including:

Smoking: Some medical experts believe that tobacco is the number one risk factor, as heart disease is 2-4 times more likely among smokers. Encouraging your elderly loved one to quit should be a priority.

Obesity: Excess weight puts a strain on the body’s blood vessels and is associated with high cholesterol, which can narrow the arteries. Obesity is also associated with high blood pressure and diabetes, two additional risk factors.

Low Activity Levels: Safe, moderate exercise at around 30 minutes, five times a week can greatly reduce the chance of heart attack. Increased activity also addresses the weight risk factor, so some exercise can help on multiple fronts.

Contributing Factors to Watch

Some medical issues have been linked to an increased likelihood of heart attack, but healthcare providers do not fully understand how and to what extent. Examples include:

Stress: Some researchers have discovered an indirect relationship between heart attack risk and the level of stress experienced by the victim. Work-related anxiety may not be a considerable issue for elderly individuals, but past stresses can take their toll.

Alcohol: Excessive drinking is a problem because it contributes to other risk factors, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight gain. Alcohol can also cause irregular heart beats that affect overall heart health.

Options for Free Home Healthcare Support

Recognizing the heart attack risk factors among the elderly is important, but you can also get peace of mind knowing that free home healthcare services may be available for your loved one. United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care are leading providers of such benefits, so please contact our team to learn more about options and eligibility.