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Living with Heart Disease

Diet

If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, you’ll have to make some changes to the way you eat. Eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet and adding heart-friendly foods such as fish, whole grains, nuts, beans and a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet is a good place to start. To work essential foods into your diet, start with a heart-healthy shopping list.

A registered dietitian can also help you plan meals and make healthy food choices to lower cholesterol and reduce sodium in your diet.

Exercise

You can help prevent and manage heart disease by regularly exercising. Exercise can strengthen heart function, improve circulation, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Begin with 10 minutes of exercise daily and gradually work up to 30 minutes, five days a week. Physical activity may include:

  • A brisk walk
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Bicycling indoors or outdoors
  • Tread mill or elliptical training
  • Low-impact aerobics

Talk to your primary care provider before starting an exercise program. If you have suffered a heart attack or had coronary angioplasty or an open heart procedure, attend cardiac rehabilitation classes to learn more about exercise and heart disease.

Partnering with Providers

Your health is an ongoing commitment between you and your doctor. Get regular medical checkups and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly. Follow these guidelines or those that you develop with your physician to manage your heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure. Aim for less than 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Lower your cholesterol. Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL.
  • If you are diabetic, monitor your blood glucose level daily and aim for a hemoglobin A1c of 7 percent or less.
  • If you are overweight, work with your physician to achieve gradual weight loss through diet and exercise.
  • Don't smoke. If you smoke, sign up for a smoking cessation class.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Manage stress by incorporating deep breathing exercises, physical activity or meditation into your day.
  • Practice good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth daily and flossing regularly. See a dentist annually.
11116 Medical Campus Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
301-790-8000
TDD: 1-800-735-2258
meritus Health
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