Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Seniors

"The heart is a very resilient muscle," says Woody Allen in his film "Hannah and Her Sisters". And indeed it is. Charged with pumping blood throughout the entire circulatory system, the heart is also a muscle that reflects the treatment by its host more than any other muscle in the human body. Treat the heart well with frequent exercise, a good diet, and no smoking, and its potential to remain healthy improves dramatically. Treat the heart poorly with a cholesterol-laden, sedentary lifestyle and the chance of heart disease increases.

Sudden cardiac arrest, often caused by a combination of the above, is often confused with heart attack. "It is important to clarify the differences between these two conditions because people frequently lump them together," says Dr. Michael Chen, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington in the division of cardiology.

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Cholesterol in Seniors

High cholesterol is not something we come down with, like the cold or the flu. Nor is it merely part of the food we eat. Rather, it's a condition that arises from the complex interaction between how we eat and live and how our bodies react to those choices.

 

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High Blood Pressure

Nearly every visit to the doctor's office-and sometimes even the dentist's office-includes a quick blood pressure reading. Unlike some measurements of physical health like cholesterol, knowing one's blood pressure is quick, easy, and fairly painless. But for how often we hear about blood pressure, understanding its relationship to a healthy lifestyle can often be quite mysterious.

Blood pressure is often a barometer of overall circulatory health. Someone with high blood pressure is at a significantly greater risk for heart failure, stroke, chronic kidney disease, and damage to the arteries (similar to the damage caused by high cholesterol), which can cause heart attack.

It's no different for those reaching their senior years. While nearly one in three Americans suffers from hypertension-as high blood pressure is often called-blood pressure typically increases with age, especially once one has passed middle age. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, someone with healthy blood pressure at age 50 has a 90 percent chance of developing hypertension later in life.

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Pacemakers For Seniors

It's only about the size of a matchbook, but the life-altering effects of a pacemaker can't be overstated. Whether a patient's heart rate is erratic because of a heart attack, illness, or disease, a pacemaker implanted into the chest can greatly increase one's quality of life.

After feeling lightheaded and dizzy at work in May of 2005, Gene C., 67, of Juneau, Alaska discovered how urgently he needed a pacemaker. After his family doctor consulted with a cardiologist at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, Gene found himself on an unplanned trip to Seattle.

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Heart Attack in Seniors

"The heart is a very resilient muscle," says Woody Allen in his film Hannah and Her Sisters. And indeed it is. Charged with pumping blood throughout the entire circulatory system, the heart is also a muscle that reflects the treatment by its host more than any other muscle in the human body. Treat the heart well with frequent exercise, a good diet, and no smoking, and its potential to remain healthy improves dramatically. Treat the heart poorly with a cholesterol-laden, sedentary lifestyle and the chance of heart disease increases.

A heart attack, often caused by a combination of the above, is often confused with sudden cardiac arrest. "It is important to clarify the differences between these two conditions because people frequently lump them together," says Dr. Michael Chen, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington in the division of cardiology.

Read more: Heart Attack in Seniors