I’ve Been Diagnosed With Heart Disease – How Will My Life Change?

Being diagnosed with heart disease brings a lot of new adjustments that can be overwhelming to deal with. The process of doing everyday things such as exercising and eating may change, but that doesn’t mean your entire life has to. You can still lead a normal, happy life after being diagnosed with heart disease.

Daily Habits
To ensure you take good care of your heart, focus on healthy behaviors and remove unhealthy habits.

  • Eat heart healthy foods. Make sure you understand what foods are recommended or should be avoided given your diagnosis and medications.
  • Make sure you’re aware of the potential symptoms relative to the type of heart disease you have been diagnosed with, and keep in touch with your doctor if anything changes.
  • Avoid tobacco use and secondhand smoke.
  • Avoid or minimize alcohol consumption.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.

Exercise
The key to staying positive during your lifestyle change is to focus on wellness versus illness. It is important to stay active in the safest way possible.

Many fitness centers offer physical assessments to help determine alternative fitness activities that you can benefit from and are safe. At Altru, the Sanny and Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics and Altru’s Medical Fitness Center offer medically supervised exercise that can help you get started with an exercise program and help you progress toward a healthy lifestyle. Individuals that exercise typically experience greater quality of life in their advanced years. The key is finding a safe, effective way to exercise that you enjoy.

The American Heart Association recommends:

  • 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week
  • 30 minutes of activity per day, 5 days a week.
  • 40 minutes of moderate exercise per week for those with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure

Pay attention to how you feel during and after your exercise sessions and adjust your activities as needed. Be patient with yourself and build on your exercise tolerance and endurance slowly.

Eat Smart
It is important to be mindful about what you are consuming. Focus on portion sizes and healthy choices.

  • Read food labels.
  • Avoid high fat, high cholesterol and foods high in carbohydrates.
  • Consume low sodium choices.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Learn more about some of your heart’s favorite foods.

Medications
The type of medications you are given will depend upon the type of heart disease you have been diagnosed with. For some, a daily Aspirin will be the extent of it, but others may need blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications, medications for fluid retention or medications that strengthen the heart for those with heart failure. The number and type of medications prescribed depend on the complexity of the heart disease. Your care team will provide you with information on how and when to take your medication. It is important to be consistent and diligent. Here are some tips to stay on track:

  • Set an alarm for your medication time.
  • Keep medication in a container marked with the day/time, and pre-fill it with the dosage needed.
  • Refill your prescriptions through MyHealth so you can ensure you don’t run out.

Follow-up care and visits
Follow-up appointments will be determined by the diagnosis and how stable the individual is. Usually, you’ll see your provider every six months or annually for routine appointments. Typically those patients that are hospitalized will be scheduled for a post-hospital appointment to assure the individual is doing well.

Once you have been diagnosed with heart disease you should have lifelong appointments with your cardiologist or primary care physician at least annually, or more as recommended. It is also important to stay on top of your overall care, so if you see your cardiologist for heart care, you’ll want to visit with your primary care provider for routine screenings and check-ups annually.

Potential treatment options
Altru’s Heart & Vascular team offers advanced, convenient care to ensure patients who are living with heart disease can be confident they are in good hands. Specific treatment options will depend upon the type of heart disease you have and your overall health condition. Treatment options may include:

  • Coronary disease: medical therapy, angioplasty, stents or coronary artery bypass as recommended by your provider
  • Rhythm issues: medical therapy, cardioversions, ablations, pacemakers or defibrillators may be recommended
  • Heart failure: medical therapy, cardiomems, an automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator, and heart transplant could be treatment options your provider will discuss with you

Regardless of the heart disease you have been diagnosed with, our team will help you through balancing your new lifestyle. If you have any questions about your heart care, or would like to schedule an appointment, call 701.780.6236 or contact your provider through MyHealth.

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