A heart attack can happen when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to a section of the heart. As a result, some of the heart muscle starts to die.
Most of the time, older adults are dependent on family members or caregivers to understand the signs and to get medical aid. Here are tips from Dr Sriniwas Thakur, Consultant Geriatrician, on what you should and shouldn’t do when some elderly person suffers from a heart attack.
Heart attacks: risk factors and reported symptoms
There are risk factors for heart attacks in elderly, such as family history of heart attacks or cardiac problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, alcohol consumption…
- Being overweight or obese
- Inactive or sedentary lifestyle
Commonly reported symptoms of heart attack include:
- Uncomfortable chest pain, heavy pressure or squeezing or sensation of fullness in chest, with pain radiating to neck, jaw and arm
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Experiencing shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting, sudden sweating or dizziness
- Fatigued and noticeable decrease in energy
- In some cases, acute change in behaviour (delirium).
Steps to reduce heart attacks
There are some ways to reduce heart attack risks. Indeed, first, it is important for people of all ages to eat a healthy diet:
- If suffering from high blood pressure, they should have a diet low in salts and pickles; consume less oily and fried foods.
- If diabetic, diet should be low in sugars and consume foods with low glycemic index. It is always a good option to consume fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables and avoid all sorts of junk food
Secondly, senior citizens who have been sedentary should start exercising slowly, by taking short walks every day. Moreover, one of the most preventable causes of heart attacks is smoking. It is always better to quit smoking at any age. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
To conclude, keep your Blood Pressure, Diabetes and Cholesterol in good control and try and lead a stress-free life; visit your doctor on a regular basis.
An elderly person has a heart attack in front of me: what can I do?
- Have that person sit down, rest and try to keep calm
- Loosen any tight clothing
- Keep constantly reassuring them that medical aid is on its way
- If the person takes any medication for chest pain or heart condition, help them take it
- Call for help and immediately, take the person to the hospital.
What not to do?
- Do not leave the person alone, except to call for help
- Do not give anything by mouth, unless a heart medication is prescribed
- Do not wait to see if the symptoms go away. Take the person immediately to the hospital.