Aging and heart failure have very strong connections for one simple reason.
The vast majority of the risk factors that trigger it affect all of us once we pass the age of 55.
Also known as congestive heart failure of CHF, it is the result of our heart muscles not pumping our blood like it used to.
The general consensus of the medical community is that there is no one single cause.
Instead, it is widely held that there are several conditions that will eventually cause it, but leading the list and perhaps the most dangerous is unchecked high blood pressure.
If you are in our age group of 55 years or older, you should make it a priority to buy a blood pressure monitor, and check your pressure at least 2-3 times each week.
That way, you know exactly where you stand and can react accordingly.
The connection with aging and heart failure, CHF, is much different then with aging and high blood pressure for one very important reason; the symptoms.
Unlike high blood pressure, which in the vast majority of cases shows absolutely no symptoms, this condition does.
Here is the first list.
A swelling of the ankles can also be signs of high blood pressure that is not controlled, but in the vast majority of cases, you will not see any swelling in your feet.
You may swell in your legs, but swelling in the feet is one of the most telling signs of aging and heart failure.
All of the above symptoms can also be signs of other heart conditions as well as lung problems such as COPD, but swelling in your stomach is not.
It is another real warning sign of CHF, congestive heart failure.
Here is the next set of symptoms with aging and heart failure.
Coughing and wheezing as we get older is not that uncommon, especially if you smoked or still do, but mucus that is pink or red in color is not.
Neither is a sudden weight gain for no reason.
With this condition, what is happening is that your body is beginning to retain fluid because of the lack of blood flow.
In the majority of cases with CHF, there are several things occurring that is beginning to weaken the heart, but this condition can also be triggered if our heart becomes to “stiff”
While this may sound somewhat strange, it is actually very common.
When the heart begins to fail, the major chambers that pump our blood, referred to as “ventricles”, start to stiffen up, and this makes the blood filling process more difficult.
When everything is normal, our heart is filled with just the right amount of blood between each pump.
However, these same “ventricles” may also stretch, which also interferes with the proper blood pumping process.
There is also one other major aspect of aging and heart failure; there are four different types of it.
They include the following.
With the left sided form, fluids may begin to back up in your lungs, which cause the shortness of breath you may experience.
With the right sided form, fluid is backing up in your stomach area, as well as your legs and feet.
This is the reason our abdomen and feet will swell.
The Systolic form causes the left “ventricle” to slow its pumping process, and the Diastolic form causes the same left “ventricle” to stiffen, so it can’t relax and fill properly.
There are several risk factors with the connection between aging and heart failure and here is the first list.
While high blood pressure is by far and away the leading cause of this condition, NSAID’s are a very close second.
NSAID’s are over the counter pain medications such as Aleve, Motrin, Aspirin, and all of their by products, just to name a few.
If you take these types of over the counter pain medications, talk to both your Doctor as well as your Pharmacist.
They can and will cause damage to several of our organs over time, including our heart, if we take them each and every day.
However, there is one painkiller, Tylenol, that several Pharmacists have told me DO NOT do damage to any of your organs, including our heart.
A slight heart attack we may have had and never knew about could also trigger this condition.
Here is the second list of risk factors with aging and heart disease.
Tobacco in any form will eventually take its toll on our arteries, and it will only be a matter of time before they narrow.
Once narrowed, it slows the pumping of our blood and can easily trigger this condition. If we drink to excess, it will also impact the strength of the pumping of our heart.
Sleep apnea is dangerous for several reasons, and with CHF it lowers our blood oxygen levels.
Once lowered, it can and will lead to changes to our heartbeat, which will over time weaken it as well.
Viral infections can also weaken our heart muscles, and lead to irregular heart rhythms.
This connection with aging and heart failure can also damage our kidneys, our liver, as well as cause heart valve and heart rhythm problems.
The good news, however, is that if this condition is caught and properly diagnosed, it can be controlled and treated.
Some of these treatments include ACE inhibitors, receptor blockers, beta blockers, as well as diuretics to control the fluid buildup.
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