Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

About Heart Diseases

Heart failure is a medical condition where the heart fails to pump sufficient blood to the rest of the body. Sometimes the arteries of the heart that take part in this blood sending task, also becomes narrowed and hardened due to plaque that has developed on the inner walls of the heart arteries. When the plaque bursts and a clot blocks the arteries, it is called a heart attack. In normal heart failures, where an attack does not occur, but sufficient oxygen and nourishment is not sent from the heart to the entire body; and hence the body feels fatigued and tired. In these cases, the body fails to pump out the wastes and the wastes tend to be deposited in the lungs; and the lower body parts, like legs and abdomen.

How To Live Your Life With A Heart Disease: 5 Important Factors For Healthy Life With Heart Disease

Chronic heart failures and heart attacks are permanent conditions and cannot be cured completely. Nobody can give a guarantee that they will not recur. Although, if you take proper precautionary and preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of further heart attacks and live a normal life. With a full and productive lifestyle, you can understand that heart failures are not a condition to feel grim about and you can live as normal and social a life as anyone else.

Coronary heart disease or heart failure is a condition that can occur in almost every age. However, it is most common in increasing age, especially above the age of 65. Although involuntary factors are causes behind heart failure, but lifestyle also plays a great role in heart failure or coronary heart disease. Hence, making changes in the lifestyle will bring significant changes in your heart health.

Stop Smoking and Live Healthy with Heart Disease

Smoking is on the top of the list of causes for heart diseases. The reason why smoking increases the risk for heart disease is because smoking increases blood pressure and also the possibility of blood clotting. The fact that smoking can significantly decrease good cholesterol or HDL, it becomes difficult for the smoker to exercise. It can also reduce the ability of your blood to carry oxygen; hence, smoking can make it difficult for your heart to carry oxygenated blood to the entire body. Smoking can also cause fat deposition in the blood vessels and heart arteries. This increases the blood pressure and also the risk of thrombosis. By using nicotine patches, inhalers and gum, smoking can be stopped. You can also seek help from doctors and try withdrawal medicines to stop smoking and live normally with a heart disease. One of the important steps towards healthy living with heart disease is to QUIT SMOKING.

Diet in Heart Disease

It is very important that you continue a heart healthy diet habit. This change is mostly difficult for those who have a craving for salty and sugary food. The normal diet that a person with heart disease must follow should include:

  • About 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, with 100% fruit juice at least once a day.
  • Three servings of 1 ounce of whole grain foods like rye bread, whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal and brown rice that are rich in fibre and low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
  • Limiting the use of solid fats, making it lower than 7% of daily saturated fat intake. Use olive oil, corn oil or safflower oil, canola oil instead.
  • Eat lean proteins like fish and vegetable proteins like lentils and beans, skinless poultry, lean beef, non-fatty lamb and poultry, fish like salmon, trout, herring that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, make sure that the portion of meat is limited only to 2 servings and 3.5 ounces of fish in a week.

There are other dietary restrictions that must be maintained and they are –

Fluid Intake Restrictions in Heart Disease

It is always advised that a patient with heart disease or heart failure must limit fluid intake. Fluid includes water, soups, juices, other drinks, even ice creams and also fruits with high amount of water content. Tea and coffee are also drinks that are usually not counted by the heart patients as a recognised and prominent fluid that are consumed daily. These too must be taken in moderation, as they contain caffeine in a significant amount that increases your blood pressure and heart rate. As for alcohol, it is recommended that you do not consume alcohol at all if you are a chronic heart patient. For others with heart failure, alcohol consumption must be restricted to one to two drinks a day.

Salt Restriction: A Must in People with Heart Disease

  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables and foods with no added salt or at least those, which are low in salt.
  • Avoid ham, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers.
  • Avoid canned soups, stock cubes, packet seasonings.
  • Avoid salted nuts, soy sauce, olives, Asian foods, crisps, dips and chips.
  • Avoid commercial sauces, mayonnaise, salad dressings, tomato sauces.
  • Avoid pasta, pizza, pies.

In short, salt is not good for those having heart disease. Make sure you limit your salt intake as much as possible.

Exercise: A Mandate for a Healthy Life after Heart Disease

Engaging yourself in a mild physical activity is very useful for patients with heart failure or heart attacks to have their hearts functioning more efficiently. Exercise reduces the workload. Nevertheless make sure that the amount and right type of exercise regime is chosen by your cardiologist. You must not choose the exercise all by yourself when suffering from heart disease. Choose activities that make you happy. Exercising can be something as simple as swimming, jogging or walking. Make sure you warm up before you start these activities. However, if any of these exercises or activities make you fall short of breath or make you feel dizzy, DO NOT continue them and contact your doctor immediately.

Returning to Normal Life after Heart Disease

Boost Your Confidence

Most people with heart failure or heart disease usually face one major problem and that they start to feel depressed. However, it is the responsibility of the family members to make them feel that they are not alone. For developing this self confidence and making them drop the guilt, you can contact a support group. It is very important that you continue seeing life, as it already was, just with some changes in your lifestyle, for your own benefit and not for your shortcomings and drawbacks. This confidence will keep you away from depression in heart disease. As much as you have the heart disease patients surrounded by family members and have them stay connected in recovery groups, it will be beneficial.

Travel & Enjoy, Even with Heart Disease

Having a heart disease is not the end of the world. You can as much watch the world as you did in early times. As per the British Cardiovascular Society, there is no problem for heart patients to travel by air. Just make sure that you do not visit the hill stations and the vigorous and remote areas, if you are not absolutely confident about your heart condition or general health. It is always better that you consider travelling as a relaxing trip and not as adventure trips and stay in areas from where it is easier for you to stay connected to amenities.

Sexual Life with Heart Disease

It is very normal for people, who have had heart disease, to feel anxious about returning to their normal sex life. The fact is that sexual activities rarely bring risk and threat to further heart attacks. If you can walk up to two flights of stairs, you can surely be able to engage in sexual activities within 2 to 3 weeks of the heart attack and meet the demands of sexual intercourse.

Driving with Heart Disease

You should stay away from driving for at least 4 to 6 weeks, if you have had a heart attack. This is because the medications and the weakness and fatigue from a heart attack always slow down the reflex and reaction time. In fact, if you have had a heart surgery, then you must give enough time for the incision to heal. Ask your doctor to check if you are ready to return to driving your car.

Conclusion

When you have a heart disease, try to feel and understand that it is not the end of the world. Yet make sure that you stay in contact with your cardiologist and go through regular checkups to have your heart condition regularly assessed.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: January 9, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest