Living with Heart Disease
If you have heart disease, there are healthy choices you can make each day to help take care of your health problem.
Partner with your doctor
- Go to your routine and follow-up visits to the doctor or clinic. Regular exams help your doctor watch over your heart health and note any signs of disease progression.
- Educate yourself. Read newspapers, books, magazines and articles on the Web about heart disease to keep on top of new research findings and treatments. Share this news with your doctor to see if it’s relevant to your health problem.
- Work to lower your risk factors. This helps avoid or delay future heart problems.
- Know your numbers. Keep track of your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels through routine screenings or as recommended by your doctor.
- Pay attention to your symptoms. If your symptoms become more frequent or severe, contact your doctor right away. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911. Never drive yourself to the hospital; your symptoms could worsen while you are behind the wheel.
- Stick with your treatment plan. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take medicines as directed. Tell your doctor if you feel side effects or unusual reactions from your medicines or treatment. Your doctor may need to change the amount or type of medicine. You can also ask for something to help ease the side effects.
Your Health Is In Your Hands
- Get moving. Regular exercise can lead to a healthier heart. It can lower your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise can also help prevent depression and high stress levels. Try for 30 minutes of exercise every day. Be sure to ask your doctor before starting a new exercise plan.
- Quit smoking. It’s never too late to quit smoking. Ask your doctor for help – there are products and programs to support you.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Watch your salt intake and eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, fiber, and lean poultry and meat.
- Watch your weight. Too much body fat will make your heart work harder and can worsen heart disease. The best way to maintain an ideal weight is through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- Be less stressed. Stress is a part of our lives. Learn how to lower your stress through meditation, yoga or rhythmic breathing. Regular exercise helps you cope, too.
To be successful, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Set realistic goals and map out a plan that you can follow.
- Make one change at a time.
- Know that you will have good days and bad days. Don’t beat yourself up if you take a misstep and don’t push yourself too hard.
- Share your goals with family and friends; they will support you.
- Seek out support groups to share tips and personal experiences.