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How do Cardiovascular Diseases affect Older Australians?

As leading, experienced, home care providers, Right at Home, finds that elders, especially those with cardiovascular disease, benefit from staying in the familiarity of their own homes with the help of a professional caregiver to assist in reducing some manageable risk factors. But what are the statistics of Cardiovascular Disease?

According to the Australian Government Department of Health[1], 29% of deaths had an underlying cause of CVD in 2015 and about 15.7% of the indigenous population of Australia were estimated to have heart disease. American Heart Association (AHA)[2] state that about two-thirds of cardiovascular disease deaths occur in people age 75 and older. In Australia, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer and 90 per cent of Australians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease according to Heart Research Institute Australia (HRI)[3]. World Health Organization (WHO)[4] state that 17.9 million people around the world die each year from CVDs. From these statistics, it is clear that cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke and heart failure are the leading causes of death globally, and the risks increase with age, but a significant number of these deaths are preventable.

What Causes Cardiovascular Disease?

According to Heart Research Institute[5] Australia, atherosclerosis is the main underlying cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Atherosclerosis is very common. Over the age of 40, people in general good health have about a 50 per cent chance of developing serious atherosclerosis, with this risk increasing with age. Ageing can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Most people over the age of 60 have some atherosclerosis, but often do not have noticeable symptoms. Atherosclerosis can have devastating long-term consequences.           

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Remaining sedentary and a poor diet contribute to being overweight and raise the risk of declining heart health.

Key factors and behaviors that affect a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke are: 

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • inactivity
  • poor nutrition
  • smoking

Of these health factors, tobacco use is considered one of the most preventable causes of death in the country. For smokers, going smoke-free results in a number of positive health benefits, for example, the AHA states, “One year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent.” 

How to Keep Cardiovascular Disease under Control

Fortunately, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is possible through a number of positive lifestyle choices. To promote lasting change in a person’s health through everyday small actions, the AHA created a healthy living movement called Healthy for Good™. The movement’s approach is threefold: Eat Smart. Move More. Be Well. The Healthy for Good movement hopes to inspire people to choose heart-healthy foods, exercise regularly, manage stress, get adequate sleep and practice mindfulness. The Heart Foundation Australia also has advice on healthy eating and keeping active

Many older adults are surprised to find that they can prevent and significantly lessen the effects of cardiovascular disease by making even small adjustments in their daily routines.

Right at Home Australia Promotes Three Recommended Ways to Improve Cardiovascular Health:

Manage blood pressure

When blood pressure rises too high, the extra force on the circulatory system can damage artery walls and build up scar tissue. This can limit the smooth flow of blood and oxygen to and from the heart, causing the heart to pump harder and wear out more quickly. To lower blood pressure, reduce salt and alcohol intake, and eat fewer saturated-fat foods. Incorporating more exercise and controlling stress will also help drop blood pressure into the normal range (less than 120 over 80).

Stay physically active

An average fitness goal is moderate exercise that keeps you moving and breaking a light sweat for 30 minutes a day five days a week.  However, remaining sedentary, like sitting at work, in the car or on the sofa, for the rest of the day is not good either. Instead, break up long periods of sitting by getting up and moving around. For example, climb up and down stairs during TV commercials or walk around when you’re on the phone.

Eat nutrient rich food

The heart runs best on plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts) and fewer processed, convenience foods (crackers, chips, packaged desserts and microwave meals). Nutritionists recommend one of the fastest ways to adopt a heart-healthy diet is to forgo sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices. Fresh fruits and veggies, quality whole grains, and wild fish make up the core of a diet for better overall health.

How In-home Caregivers Help with Heart Health

The older people get, the harder it can be to oversee all aspects of health and well-being. Oftentimes, elders need encouragement and respectful supervision to make the right choices to safeguard their heart. Individuals with cardiovascular disease or who are recovering from a heart attack or stroke need careful monitoring to prevent further complications.

Right at Home in Australia has local offices whose in-home caregivers can assist cardiovascular disease patients in a number of ways:

Ambulation:

Fatigue and shortness of breath from cardiovascular disease can limit a patient’s movement and lead to falls. Having an adult home care professional assist the patient with mobility is both a safeguard and a relief to the patient and their family.

Dietary intake:

Cardiovascular patients are typically placed on a diet low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, and they may need help shopping for and preparing appropriate meals and snacks.

Medication reminders:

Medications are extremely important for people dealing with cardiovascular conditions. Forgetting to take medications or taking them incorrectly can result in hospital readmission. An in-home caregiver can remind the patient to take medications and can run to the pharmacy for prescription refills or to pick up additional medications.

Personal care:

Many heart and stroke patients feel weak and struggle with bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom. A trusted in-home caregiver can provide an extra hand with these daily tasks.

Home management:

Because of decreased energy and mobility, people with cardiovascular disease may need help with cleaning, laundry, errands and a number of regular routines including pet care.

Rehabilitation:

Attendance at cardiac or stroke rehab is crucial, and for more severe cases, required daily. Cardiac rehab programs have shown to decrease the odds of additional heart attacks. At-home caregivers can provide the patient with transportation to rehab appointments and can monitor the patient’s compliance with prescribed activities to do at home.

Follow-up with physician:

Adult home care providers can drive cardiovascular patients to and from medical appointments, help record the physician’s suggestions, and communicate changes in the patient’s condition to the family.

In addition, Right at Home offers clients a disease management program to help monitor symptoms and promote self-care with the following diseases:

  • Acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as heart attack
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Cerebral vascular accident (CVA), commonly known as stroke
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Hip or knee replacement

Right at Home in-home caregivers are trained in specific health conditions, are prepared to recognise warning signs of heart attack, stroke and other illnesses and can seek medical help, which is often the difference between a good outcome and a poor outcome.


Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors and adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no admin or subscription fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.

Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government approved, home care provider for levels 1 – 4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.

To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website

1 Australian Government, Department of Health. Retrieved from https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/chronic-cardio#com

2 American Heart Association, “Older Americans & Cardiovascular Diseases.” Retrieved from //www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_483970.pdf">https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_483970.pdf

3.Heart Research Institute Australia (HRI) Retrieved from https://www.hri.org.au/about

4.World Health Organization, Cardio Vascular Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases/#tab=tab_1

5 Heart Research Institute Australia (HRI) Retrieved from https://www.hri.org.au/about

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