How to keep the 'old ticker' ticking

Statistics show that the chance of suffering a heart attack greatly increases over the age of 55, for both men and women. Fortunately, there are some simple things one can do to limit, and even prevent, the chances of having a heart attack.

A heart attack happens when a part of the heart muscle dies or becomes damaged due to reduced or blocked blood supply. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), risk factors for having a heart attack include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, and a family history of stroke, obesity or diabetes.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has published a simple guide for preventing heart attacks, called “The ABCs of Heart Attack Prevention.” The ABCs are: Avoid tobacco, Become more active, and Choose good nutrition.

The AHA recommends that one should quit smoking, be physically active every day, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, eat a healthy diet, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, manage diabetes, and not drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

The CDC lists the five major symptoms of a heart attack as:

  1. Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  2. Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  3. Chest pain or discomfort
  4. Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulders
  5. Shortness of breath

The University Hospitals Center for Healthy Aging reports that patients often attribute their pain or discomfort to something else, and don’t seek the medical attention they need. If blood flow to the heart is not restored within minutes, irreversible damage to the heart will occur, or the heart may stop beating altogether.

If you think that you, or a loved one, are experiencing a heart attack, it is important to call 911 immediately. If you’re not sure, call anyway. While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, ask for help from anyone nearby who may be trained in CPR and in using a defibrillator.

The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center offers blood pressure checks and other health screenings on a regular basis. It also offer classes and programs to help keep one physically active, maintain a proper weight, and reduce stress. Call 216-691-7377 for more information.

The AHA can be reached at 800-242-8721, and the CDC can be reached at 800-232-4636.

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through She canbe reached at 216-408-5578 or

Read More on The Senior Section: a resource guide for senior adults
Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 4:43 PM, 10.30.2014