Living with Heart Disease

Your Care Explained > Care Stages : Living with Heart Disease

Completing your treatment at Brigham and Women’s doesn’t mean your therapy is at an end.

If you are not enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program, ask your cardiologist for a referral to one near your home. You’ll want to look for a program that emphasizes exercise and healthful diets and offers a wide range of services, including education and behavioral counseling. Enrolling in a cardiac rehab program could be one of the best gifts you could give yourself and your family; research indicates that women who complete cardiac rehab programs have a lower risk of heart attack and death.

Staying Heart Healthy:

When you fully recover from your procedure, you are likely to feel better and have more energy than before. You will also have a few new responsibilities. You may be taking new medications, which may require changes in your diet or eating habits. If you have a pacemaker or ICD, you’ll need to remember to have your medical ID with you at all times and to have your device tested periodically. You may have a series of follow-up medical appointments to work into your schedule. And you should be working to follow a heart health lifestyle. Although your life may have returned to normal, it will be a new, and possibly better, normal.

Prevention and Nutrition

After you’ve recovered from your procedure and treatment, you’ll need to adapt a healthy lifestyle. You should monitor your heart rate, maintain a healthy body weight, exercise, and stop (or don’t start) smoking.

In addition, you should eat healthy foods for good nutrition, in order to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. This includes diets high in fiber, low in sodium, low in refined carbohydrates, high in essential nutrients, and low in unhealthy fats (i.e. trans fats and saturated fats). Try to adapt some of the guidelines of the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet in order to maintain heart-healthy eating habits.

Finally, you should try to reduce stress in your daily life. By eating a healthy diet, attaining a healthy body weight, getting regular physical activity, not smoking, and consuming a modest amount of alcohol, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by 80%.

Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011

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