The American Heart Association reports that nearly 6 million Americans have some form of heart disease. It’s one of the top reasons why people over the age of 65 are taken to the hospital.
While it’s important that a medical professional make the diagnosis, there are signs to look for if you suspect that someone under your care may be experiencing heart failure.
Start With the Definition
Heart failure is the term used to describe a condition. It means that the heart is weakened and is not pumping blood as well as it should. When the heart can’t do its job, our kidneys cause the body to retain salt and water. Fluid builds up and our body becomes congested. This becomes known as congestive heart failure.
Heart failure in seniors causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and coughing.
Heart failure is usually diagnosed because someone experiences more than one of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath. Pay attention of a senior complains of difficulty breathing while they’re lying flat.
- Persistent wheezing or coughing. Pay attention if this coughing produces pink or white mucus.
- Edema. Pay attention if a senior complains of swelling in their feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen.
- Fatigue. Pay attention if a senior tells you they’re feeling tired all the time, or if they’re suddenly feeling fatigued by everyday activities like walking.
- Appetite changes. Pay attention if a senior tells you they feel nauseated, or if they lose their appetite.
- Impaired thinking. Pay attention if a senior suddenly appears to be confused—especially if it’s accompanied by memory loss.
- Increased heart rate. Pay attention if a senior tells you they feel as if their heart is throbbing or racing.
We all have days when we just don’t feel right, so it’s usually nothing to be concerned about if a senior tells you they’re experiencing one of these symptoms. They’re all signs of possible heart failure, but each can be caused by many other things.
On the other hand, if you notice multiple symptoms, it’s wise to seek out a medical professional. Heart failure is a serious condition. There’s often no cure, but heart failure in seniors can be treated and managed with medications.