Atrial fibrillation is a condition characterized by an abnormal heartbeat originating in the upper chambers of the heart (atria). A-Fib greatly increases the risk of stroke in seniors–as much as five times over someone without A-Fib. This is one of the reasons why leading home care agencies in Caledon want all caregivers to be able to recognize possible symptoms of A-Fib. Early detection can also ensure your loved one receives treatment to correct or manage the condition.
Recognizing Symptoms of A-Fib in Seniors
Some seniors with undetected A-Fib may dismiss possible signs of the condition as nothing major, so it’s important for caregivers to be observant. Possible symptoms of A-Fib in seniors that part-time or live-in caregivers in Caledon should look out for include:
• Increased heart rate – Caregivers should get into the habit of taking pulse rates on a regular basis, reporting any noticeable increase in heart rate.
• Dizziness – Feeling light-headed after a mild activity or while getting up is often indicative of an issue with blood pressure, which is affected by heart rate.
• Shortness of breath – While sometimes caused by simply being out of shape, difficulty catching breath during normal movement may be a sign that the heart is working harder to pump blood.
Treating A-Fib in Seniors
Due to the increased risk of stroke associated with A-Fib, treatment often includes blood thinners to reduce stroke risk. Blood thinners may also increase the risk of hemorrhage. Consequently, steps should be taken to ensure that anyone treating a senior after a fall–even one that appears minor–knows he or she is on blood thinners. Additional A-Fib treatments specific to seniors include:
• Beta blockers
• Calcium channel blockers (calcium strengthens the heart’s contractions)
• Electrical cardioversion (electric current is used to reset the heart’s natural rhythm and is successful in 95 percent of A-Fib patients)
If A-Fib that hasn’t been detected or treated is causing heart failure, your loved one may exhibit unusual reactions to reduced blood flow such as swollen legs or persistent wheezing in addition to the symptoms listed above. Should such symptoms be observed, seek medical attention immediately.
For more information on promoting senior health and wellness, contact the dedicated staff of Home Care Assistance at 905-951-8885. Although we are known for exceptional memory care services including dementia and Alzheimer’s home care in Caledon, we also offer live-in and flexible hourly care for seniors who require minimal help with everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, running errands, and personal grooming. Schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager to learn more about how our caregivers are changing the way the senior population ages.