Wondering how to manage life with heart disease? We share how you can live the life you love.
Anyone who hears the words “heart failure” or “heart disease” coming from their doctor’s mouth knows those aren’t words you want to hear. But with medical advances and new treatments, heart disease, while still serious, doesn’t mean life suddenly comes to a standstill. After the initial shock wears off, it’s entirely possible to live a full life. Here’s how:
Don’t let heart disease define you.
You aren’t your disease. You’re a golfer, a musician, a mom, a business owner. You can add heart patient to that list, but don’t let it be the list. Talk with your doctor about limitations you may have and about how to live a full life within those limitations.
Build a support network.
There are people around you who want to be there for you and help however possible. It may be a son or daughter, a neighbor, or your best friend from high school. Your friends and family are the people you can turn to when you’re down, exhausted, or simply need help keeping up with everyday tasks.
Participate in activities you enjoy.
If you loved to visit the farmer’s market on Saturday or host backyard BBQs before your diagnosis, none of that has to come to stop (just use moderation when it comes to those babyback ribs, ok?). Keep enjoying your life, especially if those activities make you happy. If you’re feeling tired, however, make your farmer’s market trip shorter or ask your buddy to play host for 30 minutes while you catch a short nap.
Exercise is still your best medicine.
If you thought a heart disease diagnosis got you out of exercise, think again. Mild exercise will actually make your heart muscle stronger and decrease its workload, according to HeartFailureMatters.org.
Check with your doctor about exercise that is safe for you, and try to pick a routine you enjoy. For instance, if you hate swimming, you probably won’t be motivated to do it on a daily basis. Keep in mind that it’s not the time to try crazy new workouts. If you didn’t run marathons before your heart disease diagnosis, now is probably not the time to start.
Heart failure should not keep you from living a life you choose, but if your life is stressful, it’s time to make changes. Sit down with a close friend or family member and brainstorm ways you can eliminate stress. Do your best to get adequate sleep, eat right, and exercise. If there is a certain activity or place (or person for that matter) that adds to your stress level, stay away from it.
So go, live your life.
You and all others living with heart disease are doing just that: living. Keep that in mind when you’re worried about your disease. Get up off the couch, go to your grandson’s t-ball game, take a trip to the mall–we don’t care. Just live.