Can the Growing Heart Disease Epidemic with Baby Boomers Be Curbed?
Heart disease has become a tremendous problem in recent years. The prevalence of heart disease has reached epic proportions, which is going to have significant implications for the healthcare system. The epidemic is largely being driven by baby boomers.
A 2013 study found that baby boomers were more at risk of heart disease than previous generations. They scored higher on almost all known risk factors and had lower self-reported Health ratings.
The elevated prevalence of heart disease among baby boomers raises a number of concerns:
- Baby boomers account for around 25% of the population. Since they are such a large group, any health problems that are common to them will place significant strain on the healthcare system.
- Some baby boomers are well into their 70s by now and all of them are at least in their late 50s. This certainly raises some significant concerns about how much of their heart problems could be reversible. Heart disease can be reversed to some extent, but it takes time and a serious commitment to lifestyle changes. After a certain amount of damage has been done to the heart, there is no way to reverse the consequences of heart disease.
- People tend to become more stubborn with their views as they get older. It might be too late to convince some baby boomers to change lifestyle habits that are worsening their heart health. Many baby boomers are not very receptive to information that could dissuade them from continuing to make poor dietary choices or leading stagnant lifestyles. They might also be less inclined to quit smoking than younger generations.
Does this mean that baby boomers cannot recover from the terrifying effects of heart disease? Not at all. There are certainly some concerns, but there are some silver linings as well.
Baby boomers are more likely to encounter heart disease than other age groups. However, the prognosis of those that have heart disease is still better than that of older and younger generations. This was confirmed in a study published in the American Heart Association Journal. The reason is that they have better treatments for people with heart disease, such as nitric oxide heart health solution.
However, these treatments only work if seniors recognize the signs of heart disease so they can seek treatment and make the necessary lifestyle changes. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below, you should seek medical treatment.
Six unexpected signs that you have heart disease
Most of the time we consider the following factors to be insignificant symptoms. However, if you suffer from any of them persistently, you should see a specialist. Most people don’t realize that they can be early warning signs of heart disease. Your heart’s health could be at stake if you don’t take the right precautions.
You don’t have to go to ‘Doctor Google’ to diagnose yourself every time you detect a slight abnormality in your health, nor do you have to go to your family doctor every month to see if everything is in check. However, you should try to be relatively cautious and value the visible signs your body is giving you.
Dr John Erwin, a cardiology expert and professor at the University of Texas, revealed some of the symptoms associated with heart disease in an article in The Daily Mail. He points out that heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death and that we often ignore important symptoms as being insignificant.
But don’t be alarmed at the first sign of change, because many of them may be unimportant and might not be related to heart problems. “When the heart and arteries begin to fail, the signs are manifested throughout the body,” the expert warns. So if you have any of them persistently, you should consult a specialist. Take notes and check if they are present in your day to day life, they could save your own life.
Symptom 1. Erectile Dysfunction
Many people think that sexual dysfunction develops as a consequence of a problem in the reproductive organs or in their brain, which can be attributed to mental situations such as stress and anxiety. This is sometimes the case, but the truth is that in most cases they have more to do with arterial problems that can lead to major heart problems. In many cases for men, what happens is that they are not circulating enough blood through the affected area or not doing so in a fluid and constant way. Over time, the chances of getting or maintaining an erection will decline significantly.
In turn, the decrease in libido in women tends to be more marked once menopause has arrived. This is a period in which certain symptoms related to heart disease “increase rapidly”. “While menopause does not cause cardiovascular disease, certain heart health risks-such as changes in blood pressure and ‘bad’ cholesterol levels-begin to develop during this period,” the doctor says.
Symptom 2. Snoring
Those frustrating and annoying nighttime noises that keep our partners wide awake can be a sign that something is wrong with our hearts. Fortunately, it’s not like they’re going to leave us because we’re a nuisance in the marital bed. However, there is a bigger risk. “Snoring can be a sign that we have heart disease,” says Erwin.
Snoring often arises as a result of sleep apnea. It comes from periods of time during sleep when breathing stops – a condition that is associated with major physiological changes that increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke. Not only that, snoring can be a sign of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that directly affects blood circulation.
Don’t complain about the noises your partner makes while snoring. Instead, you should suggest that anyone who hears them visit a specialist. You will take care of his cardiovascular health and your mental health.
Symptom 3. Gum problems
You have probably never considered that pain, inflation or bleeding gums are related to heart disease, but the cardiologist warns that these symptoms can be a sign that we suffer from periodontitis, a serious infection that damages the gums and, in very developed cases, erodes the jawbone and even destroys it. “Periodontitis can lead to increased inflammation throughout the body, and the excess activity of the inflammatory pathways translates into a major risk factor for the development of atherosclerotic heart disease and heart attacks,” Erwein says.
Symptom 4. Shoulder and neck pain
Usually, people who experience a heart attack feel a strong pressure in their chest or a feeling of tightness in their arms, but these are not the only signs. On the other hand, many patients feel a different sensation that has little to do with heart attacks. It is an uncomfortable muscular pain in the neck, back and shoulders. A pressure that, in some cases, can be an unmistakable sign that the heart is undergoing an attack.
Symptom 5. Swollen feet and legs
The discomfort in tired and swollen legs and feet can be due to many reasons. It can be caused from sedentary life, water retention, wearing clothes that are too tight or being in summer and being unbearably hot.
However, they can also be a sign of congestive heart failure if your discomfort is chronic and accompanied by breathing problems. “This symptom is particularly noticeable in people who also have unusual shortness of breath during physical activity or when trying to sleep,” says the doctor, who recommends consulting a specialist to evaluate whether we have heart failure.
Symptom 6. Stomachaches
Although from their clinical names, dyspepsia or heartburn, it may appear that we’re talking about serious health problems, the truth is that heartburn and indigestion are fairly common, and on rare occasions are symptoms of a serious illness, except when they’re a sign that we’re having a heart attack: if the apparently benign punctures and burning move up to the upper abdomen, it could be signaling heart damage and even a heart attack, Erwin explains.
“It’s not unusual to see people come into the emergency room after chewing antacids for hours before they realize the pain was something else,” Erwin says. In addition, we should also see an expert if gastrointestinal discomfort persists and we notice that we often have hiccups, indigestion, nausea, sweating or dizziness.
It is Possible for Baby Boomers to Overcome Heart Disease?
Baby boomers can overcome heart disease. However, they need to make a concerted effort to continue their treatment for the rest of their lives.
In view of the various reports drawn up by health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which indicate that up to 50% of chronic patients abandon their treatment, a few major health experts would like to point out that cardiovascular patients should be treated and cared for throughout their lives, not just during the months following detection of the disease.
“A person who suffers a heart attack and survives will be patient throughout his life. In fact, you have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack again than the rest of the population; that is why it is so important that you follow the treatment indicated by the specialist and have a thorough control of the main risk factors: hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcohol abuse, among others. The same is true for people suffering from atrial fibrillation, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, or any other heart disease, who will be patients for life,” explains Dr. Leandro Plaza, president of the CHF. “Despite our indications, there are still a high number of patients who decide to abandon treatment on their own, unaware of the danger that this decision may entail.
Precisely, in order to learn more about patients’ doubts or the problems they have to face on a daily basis, the CHF is organising the 2nd Cardiovascular Health Forum for Patients and Families as part of the 30th Heart Week. The event, sponsored by the AstraZeneca Foundation, Danacol and Novartis, will take place from 23 to 25 September and can be followed free of charge in person.
In the forum, top-level specialists will give informative lectures on the most common doubts that arise among patients. “In addition, we will seek strategies to ask authorities for more resources to promote the prevention of cardiovascular disease, both primary and secondary, since many efforts are devoted to treating the disease but not so much to preventing it,” stresses Dr. Plaza.
Throughout the three days of conferences, the House of the Heart will deal with topics such as the effects of hypertension on the heart, which foods prevent the appearance of cholesterol, or which are the fats that affect cardiovascular health and how they can be avoided.
Another of the topics to be addressed during the conferences is the direct link between sport and cardiovascular health. Thus, the president of the Spanish Society of Cardiology, Dr. José Ramón González-Juanatey, will explain on Wednesday at 6 pm the benefits of exercise and what physical activity each person can do in each circumstance.
“Regular exercise is essential in the prevention of diseases, not only of cardiovascular disease, but also of others such as breast cancer in women or colon cancer in men. The benefits associated with sport are numerous, some of them: it reduces stress, keeps the brain active, helps to control addictions, improves muscle resistance… Already in the cardiovascular area, it helps prevent stroke, improves cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure figures, as well as the risk of diabetes. In fact, there are many studies that have shown the benefits of sport on cardiovascular health, so people who are physically active have a decrease in coronary risk of between 20 and 30%,” says Dr. Gonzalez-Juanatey.
“In addition, it is important for all of us to keep in mind that physical activity will be beneficial for anyone, including our patients,” says the doctor.
Cardiovascular disease in women is another of the aspects that will be dealt with in the conference cycle, as “we still have a lot of work to do in order to make it clear to the population that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women”, stresses Dr. Nieves Tarín, a member of the CHF, a cardiologist from the University Hospital of Móstoles, who will be presenting a paper on this subject today at 6 pm in the Casa del Corazón. “It is important to emphasize this aspect because women generally have a false sense of protection from heart disease, which makes them less careful about risk factors such as sedentary lifestyles or smoking, when the reality is that it affects even more than men.