Tips to Living Well With Heart Disease

Health In Focus   - G J E 4
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death among men and women
  • The number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease is much more than the lives lost due to all forms of cancer
  • The prevalence of coronary heart disease is
    • 7 -13% in urban populations
    • 2-7% in rural populations
  • A study by Gajalakshmi and colleagues found that death due to cardiovascular disease was the highest in Chennai, India
  • The projected figures for cardiac disease provided by the Global Burden of Diseases Study showed that by the year 2020, the disability adjusted life years lost for those with cardiac health disease was
    • 14.4 million in men
    • 7.7 million in women
There is a high prevalence of cardiac disease among the Indian population, but the onset of a cardiac condition should not be a limiting factor to lead a joyous and satisfying life. Living with heart disease is about accepting the disease condition and altering your lifestyle to suit the needs of the body. Heart disease need not necessarily be a crippling disease with a new found fear of undertaking any activity or exercise that could add stress. Instead, it can be a period of introspection and leading a sensible life that will promote the optimum functioning of the heart while maintaining the quality of life.
Tips to Living Well With Heart Disease
Tips to Living Well With Heart Disease

If you already have been diagnosed with heart disease, then there are certain aspects that need to be modified to tailor your life to support your heart.

‘A heart healthy diet and exercise regimen are important factors to living successfully with heart disease.’
Identify risk factors and limit them: Every condition or disease has certain risk factors that magnify the chances of acquiring the disease or making it worse. The risks associated with heart disease are two fold; they are either controllable or uncontrolled.

Uncontrolled risk factors include:
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Age
Controllable risk factors include:
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Poor dietary choices
Since the uncontrollable risk factors cannot be altered or changed, the focus shifts towards the controllable risk factors. Habits like smoking and alcohol consumption should be avoided to limit risk.

Coping with Emotions

A patient diagnosed with cardiac disease goes through a myriad of emotions which can cripple the life they hope to lead. At the beginning, there may be a lot of fear, anxiety which could even lead to depression, but the main aspect of coping is to come to terms with the disease and to find ways to prevent progression.

Many people with cardiac ailments have been known to lead normal lives by incorporating heart-healthy changes to their lifestyle.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

There are cardiac rehabilitation programs which are aimed at providing ideal support to cardiac patients who require the necessary knowledge and the support to lead independent lives.

Cardiac rehabilitation programs have doctors, nurses and physiotherapists present at the centers to support the needs of the patient.

Heart-Healthy Diet and Eating Habits

A heart-healthy diet is a crucial factor in living successfully with heart disease. The right diet will help delay narrowing of the arteries or can even reverse symptoms to a small extent. A poor diet could make the condition worse. Therefore, intelligent food choices are the crux of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle.

A heart-healthy diet should essentially be
  • Low in LDL cholesterol
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Lower blood pressure
People with heart disease feel restricted by the foods that they are forced to avoid. This triggers negative feeling towards their condition and can foster food cravings. The best way to design a diet is to focus on foods that can be consumed rather than focusing on what should not be.

Tips for Heart Healthy Diet
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fiber rich food: Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and are also a good source of fiber.
  • Drink plenty of water: Hydration is important in any diet as it helps the body regain lost water and also aids in flushing out toxins from the body. Moreover, people who are well hydrated eat less than their counterparts.
  • Eat at regular intervals: Meals at regular intervals will aid in maintaining blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and is also effective at burning fat.
  • Limit intake of fat: High intake of fat has been associated with an increase in blood pressure. Limiting the addition of salt in the diet is an important factor in a heart healthy diet. Instead of salt, the inclusion of spices and condiments are ideal alternatives as they provide the right twist to the meal.
  • Select the fat that goes into the meal. Look for healthier options, reduce saturated fats from red meat and include lean meat from fish and vegetable fat. Opting for virgin olive oil in cooking is another heart healthy tip.
Heart-Healthy Exercises

Exercise is an important factor in maintaining a good lifestyle after being diagnosed with a heart disease. Before starting out on any exercise regimen, it is important to check with your GP.

Tips to Following a Heart-Healthy Exercise Routine
  • Regular exercise is good for the heart and starting with 15 minutes of brisk walk will allow the body to get used to exercising. The duration of the walk can be increased over a period of time.
  • Do not lift weight: Lifting weight is a strict no-no for people with heart disease.
  • Do not exercise on elevated platforms: Hilly areas and selecting options in the treadmill for a gradient run could add to the stress on the heart and should be avoided. Moreover, higher altitudes pose an additional burden of lower oxygen levels. 
  • Yoga is a great form of workout for people with cardiac disease.
  • Extremely hot or cold sauna should be avoided.
A heart disease need not restrict you to the confines of a home, but can open the doorway to a healthy way of life. Maintaining an ideal weight, controlling cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels, quitting smoking and alcohol consumption along with a carefully designed exercise regimen can provide the right support to a fulfilling life. 

Source: Medindia

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