Home Care Assistance logo on a red heart

Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

Home Care Assistance is raising awareness around heart disease and stroke prevention in observance of heart month. Heart Disease is a leading cause of death and a major cause of disability. In fact, there is a heart-related fatality in America every minute. In Canada, heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death for women and account for 33% of mortalities overall.

 Approximately 20% of patients who are discharged from a hospital following congestive heart failure or heart attack are readmitted within 30 days. Many of these readmissions are caused by insufficient support in the home and a lack of information about post-hospitalization recovery. By providing patients with the resources they need to make appropriate care decisions, Home Care Assistance is changing how families across North America help their loved ones recover at home.

For more information about cardiac rehabilitation or the post-hospitalization discharge process, please visit www.HospitaltoHomeCare.com. In observance of Heart Month, we are also offeringfree downloads of our patient guides for Cardiac Rehabilitation and Post-Stroke Care.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Issues
Symptoms of heart failure often begin slowly and may include:
• Fatigue
• Weakness, faintness
• Loss of appetite
• Increased need to urinate at night
• Swollen liver or abdomen, feet and ankles
• Weight gain
• Shortness of breath when active or lying down
• Heart palpitations or an irregular or fast pulse
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked for some time, thereby resulting in damage or death of the heart muscle.
Symptoms may include:
• Chest pain that lasts longer than 20 minutes (may feel like tight band around the chest, bad indigestion or like there is something heavy weighing on the chest)
• Pain that moves from chest to arms, shoulder, neck, teeth, jaw, belly or back
• Dizziness, fainting
• Shortness of breath, cough
• Nausea or vomiting
• Heart palpitations
Caregiver Tips
• Prepare heart-healthy meals. Limit fat, cholesterol and sodium. Discuss with your loved one’s doctor what types of foods may be off limits if your client is prescribed a fluid restricted diet.
• Avoid overexertion. Assist with ADLs and IADLs to reduce fatigue and preserve energy levels, especially in initial weeks after discharge. Avoid using stairwells if possible.
• Watch weight. Regular fluctuations in weight are normal depending on the diuretics dosage. Be alert if weight is changing more rapidly than expected—retention of fluids may signal that heart condition is worsening.
• Set a schedule. Be sure to include time in the daily routine for more frequent trips to the bathroom if your loved one is taking diuretics. Ensure he or she takes required medications and attends follow-up appointments. Include time for resting throughout the day.
• Daily exercise. Encourage regular and progressively more difficult exercise. Work with your loved one’s doctors to identify when it’s appropriate to move from light to moderate cardio.
• Monitor breathing. If your loved one has trouble breathing or shortness of breath in addition to physical weakness, he or she may have a high level of retained fluids. Consult with his or her doctor.
• Encourage mental stimulation. Engage your loved one in the following activities to maintain and increase cognitive abilities: puzzles (crossword, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles); skill based games (checkers, chess, Scrabble); conversation (history, genealogy, current events); pattern-following crafts (needlepoint, knitting); creative arts (painting, drawing, flower arranging).
• Manage stress. Help reduce stress by creating a calm atmosphere and engaging in calming activities. Turn off bright overhead lights, play soft music, and allow for quiet moments. Other calming activities may include: meditation, prayer, spending time in nature, admiring art/photography.
• Foster social ties. Encourage your loved one to continue current social engagements and find ways to increase relationships with others. Offer to pick up friends and take everyone to lunch or host a tea party at the home of your loved one.
Interested in learning more about heart health? Listen to the webinar featuring Drs. Marc Gillinov and Steven Nissen. Drs. Nissen and Gillinov authored the book Heart 411-The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need, described as the definitive guide to heart health from two of America’s most respected doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, the leading hospital for heart health.