Senior Heart Health | February 8, 2017
According to Health Canada, Heart Disease is the number one killer in Canada.
Heart disease, including the most common form, Coronary heart disease, is the number one killer of both men and women in Canada and the United States. Heart attacks, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), are also a type of heart disease. There are several types of heart attacks ranging from the deadly widow-maker to silent heart attacks.
Your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or completely cut off. This happens because coronary arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood flow can gradually become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances that together are called plaque.
This slow process is known as atherosclerosis. When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI).
Cardiac Arrest: Cardiac arrest is not a heart attack. With cardiac arrest, a person’s heart stops beating. It can be due to a heart attack, but can also occur as a primary event. Cardiac arrest can occur for other reasons besides a blockage in the artery, including electrolyte disturbances, such as low or high potassium or low magnesium, congenital abnormalities, or poor pumping function of the heart. In a heart attack, the heart keeps beating, but can cause life-threatening arrhythmias that result in cardiac arrest within a few minutes, because the heart is not pumping blood to the lungs to pick up vital oxygen that circulates back to the heart and to the body.
Initial treatment will consist of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation – delivery of an electrical shock to restore the heart’s rhythm. For people who are resuscitated and have a heartbeat, yet are unconscious, hypothermia protocols can be used, where the body is cooled for 24 hours, then gradually warmed. This has been shown to improve the odds of a good neurological outcome.
Cardiac arrest is especially critical, as the odds of survival go down by about 10 percent for every minute until the person is resuscitated. After 10 minutes the risk of permanent brain injury is very high.
Heart attack symptoms vary widely. One can experience minor chest discomfort, or excruciating pain. The classic symptoms of heart attack include a feeling of extreme pressure on the chest and chest pain, including a squeezing or full sensation. This can be accompanied by pain in one or both arms, jaw, back, stomach, or neck. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and breaking out in a cold sweat. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience more of the other symptoms, such as lightheadedness, nausea, extreme fatigue, fainting, dizziness, or pressure in the upper back. One thing applies to everyone, though: if you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help immediately.
Comfort Keepers® can help. As part of our care, we can help promote a heart-healthy diet and exercise that is appropriate for each client, depending on his or her ability and physical condition. We also have caregivers who are specially trained to care for people who are recovering from a recent heart attack. Ask your local Comfort Keepers office today about what services are available to you or a loved one. We’re here to help!
Comfort Keepers®’ trained caregivers help provide senior clients with the highest quality of life possible to keep them happy and healthy at home. Our Interactive Caregiving™ provides a system of care that addresses safety, nutrition, mind, body, and activities of daily living (ADLs).
For additional information on Comfort Keepers of Canada® at Toronto or any other Comfort Keepers of Canada® location please visit our home page or call us at 416-663-2930.