Follow these simple lifestyle changes for faster healing and better outcomes
If you have recently suffered a heart attack, you will most likely be able to return to your normal activities. However, it’s important that you make some healthy lifestyle changes and follow the instructions of your health care providers.
With a few lifestyle adjustments, you can easily take charge of your health to enjoy a successful recovery and a quality, productive future.
A healthy lifestyle can help you recover from a heart attack, as well as prevent future heart attacks and readmission back to the hospital. Here are some tips, courtesy of the American Heart Association, to keep your heart as strong as possible:
Manage blood pressure. To help prevent or control high blood pressure, you should: lose excess weight, become physically active, follow a heart healthy eating plan including foods lower in salt and sodium, limit alcohol intake, and take prescribed medications as directed by your physician.
Reduce blood sugar. Diabetes is a major controllable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease. Lowered blood sugar helps protect your vital organs (including your heart). In general, you should avoid simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts. Also, get regular physical activity, which helps your body respond to insulin, and take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you.
Control high blood cholesterol. This can be accomplished through a heart healthy eating plan, physical activity, loss of excess weight, and – if needed – medication.
Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of a moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. Break it up into periods of 10 minutes each if you prefer. Try walking or swimming. Remember, exercise does not have to be intense to be effective, and always consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
Strive for a healthy weight. If you have accumulated too much fat, especially around your middle, you are at risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes, which are risk factors for heart disease. Even a small weight loss – just 10 percent of your current weight – will help lower your risk for these conditions.
Eat heart-healthy foods. Stock up on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean protein sources. Limit high-sodium and high-fat foods (such as cake, donuts, and canned foods).
Don’t smoke. Also, avoid secondhand smoke, which can potentially trigger a heart attack since many of the chemicals in cigarettes that can damage your arteries are also in secondhand smoke. Smoking is one of our nation’s top causes of early death. Talk to your health care provider about a smoking cessation program. Your lungs will begin to heal as soon as you quit.
Manage stress. Exercise, get plenty of sleep, engage in a favorite hobby, and try relaxation techniques.
Other Disease Management Tips:
*Don’t miss your scheduled doctor’s appointments. Write down any questions or concerns you may have before your appointment and bring them with you.
*Take your medications as directed by your physician. Do not skip any doses. You may find it helpful to use a medication organizer.
* Address your emotional needs. You may be feeling confused and frustrated by the changes in your life. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of depression (e.g., depressed mood most of day, lack of interest in normal activities and relationships).