6 Heart Problems Every Senior Should Know About

Mar 11, 2024
6 Heart Problems Every Senior Should Know About
After the age of 65, your heart and arteries are more vulnerable to damage. Age-related changes boost your risk for heart disease. When issues do occur, it’s crucial to work with a cardiologist to keep your heart in good shape.

Your heart beats around 100,000 times a day, and as you age, things like fatty plaque buildup can threaten your health. It’s vital to take care of your heart at all ages, but it’s even more important as you move into your senior years. 

Here at Carolina Heart and Leg Center, our team of interventional cardiologists diagnose, treat, and manage a full range of heart-related diseases and conditions. The risk of heart problems increases significantly with age, but there are things you can do to catch problems early so that you can get effective treatment. Early intervention leads to better outcomes. That’s why in this post, our team shares six heart issues that every senior should familiarize themselves with. 

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

Coronary artery disease is the most common heart problem in seniors. It occurs when the major blood vessels (coronary arteries) that supply the heart with blood, oxygen, and nutrients become damaged or diseased. 

Cholesterol plaques in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for CAD. If you have CAD you may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue 

Lifestyle changes are the foundation of managing CAD. A balanced diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight all play a vital role.

Heart failure

Heart failure, often misunderstood as the heart stopping, actually refers to the heart's inability to pump blood as well as it should. When the heart is unable to meet demand, you’re likely to experience symptoms.

The decrease in blood flow commonly causes fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. Managing heart failure involves adopting and sticking to a low-sodium diet, staying active, and taking any related medications as prescribed.

Atrial fibrillation 

A normal heart rhythm is crucial for the health of your heart. Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that boosts your stroke risk. If you have Afib,you may experience breathlessness and heart palpitations. Treatment is geared toward correcting the heart's electrical system.

Valvular heart disease

Valvular heart disease involves damage to one of the four heart valves. Age-related changes, infections, or a history of heart disease can contribute to this valvular disease. Fatigue, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeat are the most common symptoms. Treatment depends on which valve is affected and may include medication or surgery.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

PAD is common in older adults. It occurs when narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, and is a sign of atherosclerosis — fatty plaque deposits in the arteries.

PAD can cause leg pain when walking and is also a sign of reduced blood flow to the heart and other parts of the body. Lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking and exercising, are crucial in managing PAD.

Heart attacks

Though a heart attack can occur at any age, the risk increases with age. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and nausea. You should seek immediate medical attention in the event of a heart attack. 

Preventive measures include managing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes, along with making lifestyle changes.

It’s never too late to make your heart health a top priority. You can take steps to keep your heart and circulatory system as healthy as possible as you age. The team at Carolina Heart and Leg Center is here to help you take the best care of your heart. 

For superior cardiology care, and to schedule a visit with a Carolina Heart and Leg Center provider, request an appointment online or call us at 910-491-1760 today. The start of the year is an excellent time to invest in your heart health!