How To Protect An At-Risk Heart – Part 2

Source: Courier-Post Online
Here are seven things to keep in mind if you have a heart condition.
1. Reduce risks – Put those cigarettes down and make other changes to reduce risk, says Rainer. “Risk factor modifications such as controlling diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia along with smoking cessation have been proven to prevent progression of coronary disease and recurrence of myocardial infarction/heart attack,” he says.
2. Be proactive: Monitor your health, and discuss any concerns or changes with the doctor. “Be alert when it comes to your overall medical health,” says Crasner. “It is a lot more costly, stressful and devastating when you don’t take care of your health in a proactive manner.”
3. Make nutritious meals and snack: “Incorporating more fish, fruits and vegetables into the diet along with avoiding trans and saturated fats should be dietary goals,” says Rainear. “Use of more mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in salmon, avocado, nuts, flax seed and olive oil are beneficial. I recommend eating whole grains instead of refined grains. I also recommend avoiding alcohol, as it may interfere with medications and cause heart rhythm abnormalities.”
Rainear says patients may want to seek advice from a dietitian for further information.
Crasner agrees that a proper diet has an important role in cardiovascular health, but also says if it’s a holiday, family celebration or party don’t feel guilty about indulging in a delectable treat. “We all need to enjoy our lives and what we eat,” says Crasner. “Just make it an exception and not the rule. As long as you are not making it a meal, once in a while is OK.”
4. Start exercising: “We always recommend aerobic exercise on a regular basis,” says Crasner. “Exercises like biking, swimming, rowing, fast-paced walking, yoga, stretching and sports like basketball and tennis are good. The important thing is being consistent with exercising and doing it for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”
Crasner says to start slow with exercising, and do not engage in power lifting or heavy weights, which can put a strain on the heart. However, light weights like dumbbells are OK to try.
5. Relieve stress: Rainear says stress plays an important part in cardiovascular disease, and can worsen its progression. “Mental stress, in certain cases, can actually cause weakening of the heart,” he says. “Techniques to reduce mental stress include meditation, a quiet walk in the park, deep breathing practice, listening to music, playing an instrument and pet therapy. If needed, patients should seek the help of a mental health professional to help maintain a positive attitude.”
6. Remain positive: Another challenge for those with heart disease is depression, says Rainear. “Patients with myocardial infarction may also suffer from major depression after the heart attack,” he says. “This problem is independently associated with higher risk of death.”
If patients with heart disease do feel depressed, Rainear says they should discuss it immediately with the physician.
7. Follow medication regime: Crasner says every patient is different, so medications will vary, but every patient should follow their medication instructions.
“Most incidents require a blood thinner, a cholesterol-lowering medication and a beta blocker,” says Crasner. “As it pertains to vitamins and supplements, I say if they have a healthy diet and it’s a broad-reaching diet they don’t need anything else. Some studies say fish oil may have benefits, but it’s not really clear whether it does help.”
“The heart and body are the finest machine ever made,” says Crasner. “It’s like a car — if you put in the proper fuel, baby it, and don’t make it go over its limits, it should function properly for a long time.

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How To Protect An At-Risk Heart