Heart Disease and Lifestyle Changes

Heart Disease and Lifestyle Changes

Heart disease often demands a radical change in lifestyle. Normal, everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning can be enough to cause fatigue and shortness of breath, to say nothing of more physically demanding activities like walking or exercise. People in jobs like construction are often forced to step away to accommodate their health limitations.

For many, the disruption to that regular routine can be devastating. It can take a long time to regain the strength and stamina they had before heart issues took hold, and many people become depressed if they focus too heavily on the things they can no longer do.

There is no easy cure for heart disease, especially in the wake of a severe incident like a heart attack. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to help the heart heal, and adopting a more heart-friendly lifestyle can drastically reduce the risk of another incident in the future.

Diet is particularly important in that regard. Processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat can exacerbate hypertension, raising blood pressure and dealing more damage to the heart. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a much healthier foundation, and can be just as satisfying as any other diet when paired with fish, lean meat, and whole grains, as well as the naturally occurring fats found in foods like nuts and avocados (the Mediterranean diet is a good place to start for anyone looking for tips and recipes).    

Developing healthy habits at the start of the day is also a good way to mitigate risk. Foods like apples and oatmeal are good snack and breakfast options that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. In the case of oatmeal, it’s best to avoid instant, flavoured oatmeal that typically contains large amounts of sugar. Many seemingly healthy foods contain damaging hidden ingredients, so it’s a good idea to read the nutrition label before buying something new.

Exercise is another vital component of a heart-healthy routine, although that exercise doesn’t have to be (and often shouldn’t be) overly strenuous. For people with heart disease, even basic activities can be physically taxing. If something is so exhausting that it makes it hard to breathe or carry on a conversation, it’s probably placing too much stress on the cardiovascular system.

That’s why it’s better to start small. Moderate activities like walking (and sex) can have major health benefits over time and 30 minutes of daily activity is a reasonable starting goal. However, everyone’s needs and capabilities will be different, so any exercise regime should be carried out under the supervision of a doctor.  

Of course, anyone with heart disease should stop smoking immediately. They should try to avoid travelling anywhere too remote, where emergency access to a healthcare facility might not be readily available. Depending on the nature of the condition, it may also be no longer safe to drive.

Thankfully, it’s still possible to enjoy a wide range of activities with a heart condition. Just relax, take things slow, and give the body the recovery time it needs!    

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