Thursday, October 21, 2010

Assisted living caretakers observe residents for seven signs of heart disease

Each year approximately 500,000 people in the United States die from heart attacks.
Another 500,000 undergo coronary artery bypass surgery or balloon angioplasty for advanced heart disease. Early recognition and treatment of heart disease is vital to prevent some of these events.

In the case of heart attack, it could save thousands of lives each year. In other types of heart disease, early intervention is likely to be more effective than treatment begun after the disease has advanced. For hospice hhelp, visit Hospice North Hollywood

There are seven classic symptoms of heart disease, which, when recognized by simple observation, combined with an individual’s age and family history of heart disease, can lead to an accurate and early diagnosis.

Not all people with heart disease will experience symptoms, and in some cases, symptoms that are suggestive of heart disease will be due to another cause.

The caregivers in assisted living communities are educated to be vigilant in observing their residents and report any symptoms that might indicate heart disease. They know that certain symptoms need immediate, emergency attention or examination by a physician.

Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea)

It is normal for an individual to feel short of breath after heavy exertion such as running or walking up a flight of stairs. It is abnormal to experience shortness of breath after walking a few steps or while at rest. When shortness of breath is inappropriate to the activity, it may be considered a symptom of heart disease.

The abrupt onset of dyspnea is often due to heart failure, whereas chronic shortness of breath is more likely to be a symptom of other diseases such a chronic lung disease or emphysema.

Chest Pain

Pain in the chest is the second most common symptom of heart disease and may be due to angina, a heart attack, dissection of the aorta, or an inflammation of the lining of the heart or other heart problems.

Chest pain may originate from a variety of other structures in the chest cavity, including the aorta, the pulmonary arteries, the pleura (the lining of the lungs), the esophagus, or even the stomach. Other superficial causes of chest pain may be a pulled muscle in the chest wall, strained cartilage, irritated joints, or pinched nerves in the thoracic spine. Hospice Northridge is a great source of information to help with patients.

Chest pain may also occur when organs below the chest cavity become irritated or diseased, such as a gallbladder that is blocked by stones, an ulcerated stomach, or an inflamed pancreas.

Although chest pain may have many different causes, people who experience it should always let their physician decide whether it is related to heart disease.

Any steady, squeezing pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than two minutes may be a symptom of heart disease and should not be ignored. Some people who have died from heart attacks might have been saved had they not delayed seeking treatment because they misinterpreted the pain or believed it would go away.


Ordinarily, people are unaware of their heartbeat, and for good reason. The heart of an average person beats about 500,000 times per week.

Palpitation is the awareness of one’s heartbeat and is often quite disturbing when it occurs. Physicians say it is one of the symptoms most likely to bring a patient to the office for an evaluation of heart disease.

Palpitations are different from the expected pounding one feels after exercise or heavy exertion.

The most common form of palpitation is not due to heart disease, but may simply be a heightened awareness of the heartbeat because of anxiety or tension. Palpitations are often experienced during a panic attack along with symptoms of tingling and shortness of breath caused by hyperventilation.

Syncope (Fainting Spells)

Fainting or sudden unconsciousness usually results after the brain has been deprived of oxygen and blood for about ten seconds. Syncope can be caused by any number of conditions that result in the deprivation of oxygen and blood from the brain. Having a nurse specializing in hospice care can really benefit patients. Hospice Sherman Oaks can benefit patients

The general causes of fainting include cardiac problems, diseases of the brain, and a variety of abnormalities of the arteries and veins that secondarily cause inadequate blood flow to the brain.

Syncope is considered a potentially serious symptom, although most of the time it has a benign cause or related to another condition other than heart disease.


Edema is the swelling or puffiness of tissue around the ankles, legs, eyes, chest wall, or abdominal wall. The swelling is due to retention of water or lymph fluid in the cells of the tissue. Technically, edema is classified as a sign, rather than a symptom, because it is physically observable.

Edema is a common sign of heart disease. The site of edema serves as a signal for several different problems with the heart. If the muscle of the right side of the heart is weakened and the pumping quality is diminished, edema may occur in the abdomen or legs as pressure builds behind the right heart.

Swelling that occurs in the ankles in the evening after standing during the day may indicate that an individual is retaining salt and water, which maybe the result of right sided heart failure.

Swelling may also be the result of gravity in people who are sedentary. Lack of exercise results in blood being retained in the lower legs and not returning to the heart. Individuals with varicose veins and other abnormalities in the veins of the lower extremities may develop ankle edema as well.


Cyanosis is the bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes. It is caused by too little oxygen carrying hemoglobin in the blood that flows through the capillaries. The discoloration usually is most apparent in the fingernails and around the lips. Like edema, cyanosis is more a sign of heart disease than it is a symptom.

Central cyanosis generally occurs when the venous and arterial blood are mixed together in the heart.

Peripheral cyanosis is the type commonly caused by exposure to cold temperatures. This occurs when the body attempts to conserve heat for vital organ functions by constricting the capillaries of the skin and slowing the blood flow.

The two types of cyanosis are generally differentiated by observation. People with peripheral cyanosis display the bluish discoloration only on skin surfaces, primarily the fingers, cheeks, nose, and outer areas of the lips. The color returns when the areas are warmed.

Those with central cyanosis also display discoloration around the eyes and inside the oral cavity, including the tongue.

In addition to congenital defects that cause central cyanosis, it can also be the result of severe heart disease and cardiogenic shock caused by the heart’s failure to pump adequately.


While fatigue is a common complaint of patients with heart disease, it is also a very elusive symptom that may be caused by many diseases, including depression.

Cardiac related fatigue will be of recent onset. The individual will begin the day with a relatively normal energy level, and then become increasingly tired through the day to the point of exhaustion. This is because the heart muscle is weakened and lost its ability to pump enough blood and oxygen for the body to function.

Weakness or heaviness of the legs is associated with diminished pumping ability of the heart. Individuals with such symptoms tend to eat poorly and may develop malnutrition.

Heart disease patients may also experience fatigue because of their medications. Around 10 percent of people on medication to lower blood pressure experience some fatigue.

Other physical causes of fatigue include anemia and most major chronic diseases, including hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and lung disease.

People who feel tired when they awaken and remain tired throughout the day with little change are more likely to have a psychological disorder than heart disease. Fatigue is a major and common symptom of undiagnosed depression.
For more information, visit Simi Valley Hospice!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to backlink to your blog or site but please make sure your comment is worthy of having a backlink!