8 Mistakes Heart Patients Make
If you've already had a heart attack, you're at increased risk for another. But with
a few smart moves you can reduce that risk. Many heart patients have mistaken ideas
about what's good for them.
Mistake 1: Thinking all heart attacks are the same
If your uncle had a heart attack even after a lifetime of eating low-fat foods and
jogging every day, you may think changing your own lifestyle is not worth the trouble.
Or your friend the construction worker may have given up his job after a heart attack,
so you assume you'll need to give up your job, too. Don't count on it. Work with your
doctor to learn what's best for you. Everyone has different genetics and different
risks unique to their own lifestyle. It's important to work with your healthcare provider,
friends, and family to understand and develop a plan that is right for you. Sticking
to your plan is the best way to prevent a heart attack or other heart problem.
Mistake 2: Not adopting a healthier lifestyle
Learning to eat better may seem like the challenge of a lifetime. Or you may need
to give up cigarettes or other tobacco products, or make time for regular exercise.
But these are some of the best things you can do for a happier, healthier future.
Here are important steps that can help you prevent a second heart attack:
Quit smoking. Don't use other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco or electronic
Exercise regularly. Ask your healthcare provider what kinds of exercise to do and
how often to exercise..
Eat a healthy diet low in fat and calories.
Control your weight.
Manage your blood pressure.
Control your cholesterol levels.
Control diabetes or any other blood sugar problems.
Visit your healthcare provider regularly to make sure you are on track.
Take action to reduce the stress in your life where you can.
Mistake 3: Staying stuck in grief or depression
You may have lost your healthy self-image or the ability to do important things in
your life. Any major life change will bring feelings of loss. You may need to grieve.
You and your family may need to work through a variety of emotions after your heart
attack. Keep in mind that doing so leads to a positive, constructive future. It also
helps you stick to a healthy lifestyle.
If you are overwhelmed with feelings of grief or depression, seek help from a mental
health provider. Many support groups can help you live with heart disease. Attending
a support group may help you cope with grief or depression.
Mistake 4: Giving up on heart medicines
Don't stop taking your medicines without talking to your healthcare provider. Work
with your provider to find out what your choices are and what these medicines can
do for you. Talk about the risks and benefits of the medicines. Ask for help in choosing
the ones that:
Work the best for you
Have the fewest side effects
You'll be comfortable taking
Fit with your daily schedule
Will have the fewest interactions with other medicines you may take
Mistake 5: Tiptoeing around your family
Think about it: If you quit smoking and everyone else in the family quits as a result,
you'll be helping everyone. Don't be afraid to make a big deal about your attempts
at a healthy lifestyle. Ask your loved ones to give you as much support as possible.
Sometimes leading by example is a good way to create a new lifestyle for yourself
and your family.
Mistake 6: Staking your life on yesterday's truths
In many cases, the treatments doctors relied on just a few years ago already are considered
outdated. There have been dramatic changes in medicines and procedures. Stay up-to-date
with regular visits to your healthcare team.
Mistake 7: Shunning exercise
Maybe you're worried it will overstress your heart, but regular exercise actually
may be one of the best things you can do for your heart. It's important for someone
who's already had a heart attack to exercise correctly under the advice of a doctor
and healthcare team. Get an exercise prescription designed just for you, based on
your physical condition and your needs and interests. Exercise can help you control
risks related to weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. One excellent
way to get started is to take part in a cardiac rehab program.
Mistake 8: Not "bothering" your doctor with questions
Your healthcare provider is your greatest ally. He or she wants to partner in your
care. Don't hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.