In your role as a family caregiver, awareness is one of the most important tools that you can have. Understanding the risks that your aging loved one faces and how you can address them helps you to create a home care plan based around reducing their risks, protecting their health, and giving them the highest quality of life possible as they age in place.
This often means differentiating between health issues and events that seem extremely similar or even the same, but might actually be very different. Understanding these difference helps you to better evaluate what is happening to your elderly parent and how you can help them manage it properly. One such question is the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack.
As noted by the American Heart Association, many people use the terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” interchangeably to describe the same symptoms and situations, these are not the same thing and actually describe very different situations.
A “heart attack” occurs when the blood flow the heart muscle is cut off or diminished. This generally occurs when plaque has built up in the arteries and either fully closes off the blood flow or a piece of the plaque becomes loose and forms a blood clot, blocking the artery. This causes the heart to be deprived of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function, leading to the muscle becoming damaged or even dying.
Symptoms can include chest tightness and pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. These symptoms can persist for hours or even days, and can sometimes be mistaken for other issues, such as the flu. Generally the heart does not stop during a heart attack.
“Cardiac arrest” on the other hand is an actual “arresting” or stopping of the heartbeat. This occurs when the muscle malfunctions and the heart suddenly stops beating. When the heart stops beating it cannot pump the necessary blood to the rest of the body. Within a few seconds the person can become unresponsive and may stop beating. This can lead to death within minutes if the person does not receive the proper treatment.
If your aging parent has recently suffered a heart attack or they have risk factors that put them at increased risk of suffering such an attack, now is the ideal time for you to consider starting home care for them. The highly personalized services of an in-home senior care services provider are designed to address your elderly loved one’s individual needs in a way that helps them stay healthy, safe, and comfortable, but that also respects their need for independence, autonomy, and fulfillment as they age in place.
When it comes to helping them keep their heart healthier, this home care provider can encourage your aging loved one to eat a balanced diet, stay active, and manage their health conditions that can impact their heart health. Together with the support and care that you give them, these services enable your parent to live the lifestyle that they want while reducing their risk of heart attack.