Learning to Live with Heart Disease

Learning to Live with Heart Disease

Many
people with heart disease enjoy active, fulfilling lives. By using your mind to help your
body, getting appropriate medical care, and making lifestyle changes, you can learn to live
life to the fullest despite your condition.

The
steps below can help you take charge of your heart health and your life.

Learn all you can

Empower
yourself.
Think and act proactively. Learn about your condition, treatment
options, and the steps you can take to make your therapy a success. Take responsibility
for doing all you can to positively affect your health.

Choose
the right healthcare provider.
This is one of the most important health decisions
you’ll make. Ask friends and health providers for recommendations. Check the healthcare
provider’s background. Follow your intuition. Don’t go to a healthcare provider if you
have doubts about his or her training, track record, or manner. What’s most important is
that you communicate well and that he or she understands you and your concerns. This may
become a lifelong relationship.

Make the
most of your healthcare visits.
Write down a list of your concerns before your
appointment. Ask your most important questions first. Make sure you fully understand the
answers given. Ask for explanations if needed.

Follow
your healthcare provider’s instructions.
For example, your provider may advise
you to quit smoking or stop using other tobacco products. Or they may advise you to
lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and control diabetes. You may be advised to
eat a low-fat diet and get to a healthy weight. You may need to limit alcohol, reduce
stress, and exercise regularly. Making these lifestyle changes may help make your heart
disease better. These may lower your chances of a heart attack or stroke. It’s important
to work with your provider to figure out changes that you can make to your life.

Know your medicines. Heart disease is a long-term
(chronic) condition that’s treated with different medicines. These medicines keep your
blood pressure and cholesterol under control. The medicines also prevent or ease
symptoms. It’s important that you know what medicines you are taking. Know the doses and
how often you take them. Also know the side effects that are common with certain
medicines. Ask your healthcare provider what to do if you miss a dose. Ask when you
should not take certain medicines. Ask these same questions any time you are prescribed
a new medicine. Some heart disease medicines can have serious interactions with other
medicines. This could cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Or it could cause your
heart medicine s not to work as well.

Plan ahead

Have an
emergency plan.
Ask your healthcare provider which symptoms you should watch for
and what you should do if they appear. Call or your local emergency number if you think
you’re having a heart attack or stroke. The most common symptoms are chest pressure or
chest pain that can go e to the jaw, neck, shoulder or back. Other symptoms are
shortness of breath, feelings faint, or heartburn.

Involve
your family.
Heart disease affects your family, too. Having their support can
help you make lifestyle changes more easily. Ask family members to learn about your
condition. Take them to one of your appointments and let them ask questions about your
treatment. You and your family can take a CPR class in case you or someone in your
community has a heart emergency.

Join a
support group.
Ask your healthcare provider, local hospital, or local American
Heart Association office to recommend a heart patient group in your area. These groups
vary in their makeup and goals. Plan on visiting a few of them before deciding which one
is right for you.