Cardiovascular disease in the elderly

14/05/2024

As people enter their twilight years and experience a decline in physical health, the risk of cardiovascular diseases in the elderly is very high. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death among older adults.

Upon entering the “twilight years”, the body and health condition somewhat decline, which may result in the high risk of cardiovascular diseases in the elderly. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the elderly.

According to the results of the national survey “Risk factors for non-communicable diseases” in 2020, in Vietnam, for every 100 deaths, up to 77 people died due to non-communicable diseases, of which the cause of cardiovascular accounts for 31%. Meanwhile, in the United States, 11% of people 20 to 40 years old have cardiovascular disease, while 37% of people 40 to 60 years old, 71% of people 60 to 80 years old, and 85% of people over 80 years old have heart disease.

As age increases, the risk of cardiovascular events increases. The prevalence of hypertension, congestive heart failure (CHF), coronary artery disease (CAD), arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, valvular heart disease, and stroke is about 40% in people aged 40–59 years and 79–86 % in patients over 80 years of age. Cardiovascular disease is the cause of 82% of all deaths in patients over 65 years old.

The older you get, the higher your risk of cardiovascular events (Photo: Istock)

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Some cardiovascular diseases include:

– Coronary heart disease (myocardial infarction): disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle;

– Cerebrovascular disease (stroke): disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;

– Peripheral artery disease: disease of the blood vessels supplying the arms and legs;

– Acute rheumatic disease: damage to the heart muscle and heart valves due to rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcus bacteria at a young age;

– Congenital heart disease: birth defects that affect the normal development and functioning of the heart due to structural heart defects from birth;

– Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism: blood clots in leg veins, which can dislodge and travel to the heart and lungs.

Signs of cardiovascular disease in the elderly include:

– Angina: is a symptom of anemia and myocardial infarction, the patient feels like there is pressure or sharp pain in the chest area in front of the heart. Many times there is a burning feeling, chest tightness, causing difficulty breathing. The pain often radiates through the chest to the back, up the left shoulder or down the left arm to the little finger.

– Heart arrhythmia: the normal heart rate of an adult will range from 60 to 100 beats/minute at rest. Arrhythmia is an abnormality in heart rate such as too fast (greater than 100 beats per minute), too slow (less than 60 beats per minute) or irregular rhythm. The electrical impulses that control the heart rate function abnormally, causing the patient to experience shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

– High blood pressure: is a medical condition that occurs when the pressure of blood in the arteries and other blood vessels is too high. High blood pressure, if not controlled, can affect the heart and other major organs of the body, including the kidneys and brain. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” as it often has no symptoms.

Many signs of cardiovascular disease that require attention from the elderly (Photo: ar.inspiredpencil)

Symptoms of the disease may include::

– Fluid retention: the face, feet are swollen and the whole body may be swollen. Symptoms of edema due to cardiovascular disease are usually purple edema, soft edema, and concave pressure, signs starting from the front feet, swelling in the afternoon more than in the morning, accompanied by an enlarged liver and prominent jugular veins. Good rest and a bland diet may reduce edema.

– Constantly tiredness and exhaustion: the body feels tired and exhausted when performing daily activities.

– Chest pain: feeling of pressure in the chest

– Persistent cough, wheezing: the heart’s pumping ability is ineffective, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart, stagnating in the lungs, causing increased pulmonary artery pressure. In addition, some fluid and blood may leak into the air sacs of the lungs, causing chronic coughing and wheezing.

– Nocturnal urination: Heart failure patients will urinate frequently at night due to stagnant venous blood causing edema and redistribution of fluid at night due to congestive heart failure, and sometimes due to the effects of diuretic medication in the treatment of heart failure.

– Fast heart rate, irregular pulse: heart beats at a faster rate, palpitations, pounding.

– Rapid breathing, anxiety, sweaty palms

– Dizziness and fainting: are common symptoms when the patient has arrhythmia and blood flow to the brain is interrupted. 

What are the causes of cardiovascular disease in the elderly?

Age is the most important factor in the development of cardiovascular diseases with the risk tripling with each decade of life. Age increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases due to the aging process. Aging is associated with changes in the mechanical and structural properties of the vessel wall, leading to loss of arterial elasticity and reduced arterial compliance and may subsequently lead to coronary artery disease. 

During the aging process, the structure of the heart changes, which can lead to arrhythmia, where the heart beats too fast, too slow or irregularly. Heart valves, especially the aortic valve, degenerate and can no longer function well, leading to heart valve disease. Atherosclerosis, a change in blood vessel structure, causing the vessel wall to thicken and the vessel lumen to narrow, is the cause of stroke.

In addition, the blood vessels of the elderly also lose the necessary softness and elasticity, which is one of the mechanisms causing hypertension, and at the same time, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood into the arteries. In addition, when entering old age, health and immune system decline also increases the risk of all diseases in general as well as cardiovascular disease in particular.

How to prevent cardiovascular disease in the elderly?

According to the World Health Organization, up to 80% of heart attacks and strokes are preventable. The majority of deaths from cardiovascular disease are due to risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity or diabetes that can be prevented or controlled through the adoption of the following measures:

– Have a healthy, balanced diet to maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system by consuming a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains , nuts and foods low in saturated fat, sugar and salt.

A healthy, balanced diet supports cardiovascular health (Photo: Freepik)

– Exercise regularly to improve and maintain health and regulate heart rate. Adults (18-65 years old) and seniors (65+) should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. Being physically active is also a great way to reduce stress and control weight, both of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

– Stay away from tobacco: Tobacco use and exposure to smoke (active and passive) are harmful to your heart. No smoking is the greatest health present to your heart with immediate and long-term health benefits, including living up to 10 years longer. After one year of quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Fifteen years after quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease is similar to that of a non-smoker.

Take care of your cardiovascular health by combining an appropriate exercise routines (Photo: Freepik)

Starting from the current situation of cardiovascular disease in the elderly in Vietnam, in order to provide an optimal nutritional solution for patients, the Nutricare Medical Nutrition Institute – USA (NMNI-USA) and Nutricare company have launched the Nutricare Gold product. With the advantage of supplementing Omega 3,6,9 nutrients, Nutricare Gold supports cardiovascular health care for the elderly. Besides that, the product also contains 56 nutrients with plant protein and whey protein from the US, which support health improvement, muscle maintenance, joint movement and improved sleep. The trio of musculoskeletal support nutrients including Glucosamine, Calcium and HMB found in Nutricare Gold also support strong bones, regenerate and protect muscle mass.

Cardiovascular diseases common in the elderly can be improved and controlled. To have good health and a healthy heart, elderly people need a proper diet and exercise routines and should regularly have health checks in general and cardiovascular health in particular for early disease detection as well as risk factor adjustment.

References:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408511/

2. https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2066/4/2/article-p27.xml#B6

3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)

4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/heart-rate/faq-20057979

5. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm

6. https://diabetes.org/about-diabetes/complications/cardiovascular-disease

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819990/

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2563742/

9. https://ncdalliance.org/cardiovascular-diseases-cv

10. https://tamanhhospital.vn/benh-tim-mach/

 

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