Thanks to ongoing media campaigns and public health outreach efforts, we have become increasingly aware of the connection between lifestyle decisions and heart disease. More than ever before, we understand that our dietary habits, our level of physical activity and the way we manage our stress can all have direct implications for our heart health. This is why nutrition, exercise and a well-regulated sleep schedule are all seen as effective ways of reducing the risk of heart attack. But for seniors who are at an elevated risk, who have previously suffered a heart attack or who are experiencing the immediate symptoms of a coronary episode, new research demonstrates that we’re getting great results with some unconventional strategies. Most of these strategies will be applied under the care of a physician rather than through self-care or lifestyle change. However, it is valuable to understand some of these strategies. This understanding will allow you to make informed inquiries to your physician on behalf of yourself or a loved one.
Therapeutic Hypothermia Hypothermia sounds scary but stick with us on this one. According to Red Orbit, many heart attack survivors will suffer negative neurological effects as a consequence of the fever brought on by cardiac arrest. Such effects include chronic disorientation or memory loss. This is why some physicians use a strategy called therapeutic hypothermia, which cools the body and brain temperature to a range of 33-36C. This helps to fight off the residual impact of fever. However, it is absolutely critical that this strategy is performed in a controlled setting by experienced physicians. The method does carry a risk of side effects such as infection and bleeding. In spite of these risks, therapeutic hypothermia is often paired with ventilator treatment and is essential in assuring the survival of many heart attack patients. This is why it is critical for seniors and caregivers to understand the procedure. In the event that it becomes necessary, you’ll want to know exactly what questions to ask your doctor.
Flu Vaccination As we get older, the risks associated with contraction of the annual flu bug grow greater. In fact, many of the strongest strains can even be fatal for those who are medically vulnerable. This is why seniors are urged to get their annual flu vaccinations in a timely fashion. In case you needed an even better reason than that, a study conducted at the University of Toronto found that the flu vaccine has also been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack in those who have already sustained one. Researchers offered a number of theories as to why this reduced risk occurred. Most explanations suggested that the flu itself is responsible for heightening the risk of heart attack in those who are already vulnerable. In any event, study participants who received the stronger of two flu vaccinations were more than 50% less likely to suffer cardiac arrest thereafter. If you are a senior, a heart attack survivor or both, be sure to pay your doctor a visit this season for your flu shot. Of course, the strategies described here are not sufficient to treat or reduce the risk of heart attack on their own. You should already be laying the foundation for strong heart health by way of healthy lifestyle decisions. But by staying informed on some of these less commonly known treatment strategies, you can be a much stronger advocate for yourself or a loved one in a critical care setting.