July 7, 2022 12:24 pm
You’d been experiencing shortness of breath and occasional dizziness for a while. On your last visit to the doctor, you were diagnosed with heart disease. But what comes after the heart disease diagnosis?
While the specifics of your treatment plan will depend on a number of factors, such as the specific type of cardiovascular disease you have and its severity, know that your situation isn’t hopeless. You can take action to improve your health and keep your heart strong.
Understanding Heart Disease
You may know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among both American men and women. But what you might not know is that heart disease isn’t a single medical condition.
Heart disease—also called cardiovascular disease—is a group of medical conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. Coronary artery disease, where blockages occur in the coronary arteries, is the most common type of heart disease.
Other types of heart disease include arrhythmia, heart failure, peripheral artery disease (often called PAD), congenital heart disease, valve disease and deep vein thrombosis.
Heart problems are incredibly common. In fact, roughly half of all American men and women have some form of cardiovascular disease.
What to Expect After a Heart Disease Diagnosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease during a routine heart health screening, your next steps will vary depending on the type of heart disease you have.
Minor plaque buildup in the arteries, for example, will be handled differently than multiple blockages impeding blood flow to the heart. If you’re diagnosed with the latter, a procedure known as angioplasty may be recommended to open up the blocked arteries and place stents to keep them open. In particularly severe cases, a heart bypass may be needed.
Heart failure is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens over time, but contrary to its name, does not mean your heart is failing in an emergency way. If you have heart failure, treatment involves care for specific symptoms.
Your first step after a heart disease diagnosis is to carefully talk through the specifics of your diagnosis with your medical provider. He or she can provide you with guidance about the condition, including what treatment is recommended and why.
Taking Steps to Protect Your Heart
Once you’ve determined the specifics of your heart disease diagnosis and started or completed treatment, your medical team will probably also recommend you actively take steps to improve your heart health.
Because most risk factors for heart disease are related to lifestyle habits, keeping your heart healthy usually involves making some changes to your daily choices. Start here:
- Move your body. Talk with your doctor about what type of exercise is safe for you and aim to move your body regularly. If you’ve undergone a heart procedure, carefully follow instructions for gradually building up physical activity levels.
- Watch what you eat. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruit, lean protein sources, and whole grains. Eat a couple of small servings of fatty fish per week to get healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids. Limit your intake of sodium, saturated fat and sugar.
- Prioritize quality sleep. Sleep has a known connection with optimal heart health. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress. It’s common to turn to unhealthy habits, such as smoking or eating fast food, when we’re stressed. After a heart disease diagnosis, look for healthy ways to cope, such as exercise, meditation or a hobby.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, it’s past time to quit. Talk with your doctor about a strategy for quitting.
- Take steps to manage your health conditions. This can include heart disease and any other health conditions you have, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. See your doctor regularly, and take medications as prescribed. Report any worsening symptoms to your provider promptly.
When your heart and vascular health is on the line, you deserve the peace of mind of knowing you can get the expert care you need, close to home. Magnolia Heart & Vascular Center is here to help, providing state-of-the-art heart care right in the heart of Alcorn County.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center