Prevention of Heart Disease
By Warren Selkow, Patient
If you are reading this, the chances are you have already been diagnosed with some form of heart disease. I would find it hard to believe that you have just learned you are at risk of getting heart disease unless you have some other chronic illness like diabetes. But since you are reading this, here is a great opportunity to educate your family and friends so they do not end up in the space you are.
Here are all the things you can do to prevent heart disease. Even more importantly here are all the things you can do to abate the negative effects of heart disease. In The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease and Other Chronic Diseases we wrote much material about living with heart disease. This feature cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what is included in the book. The book goes into significant detail on all the subjects we will skim through here.
Exercise for Prevention and Maintenance of Heart Disease
Exercise is hands down number one on the hit parade for preventing and living with heart disease. If you have led a life of no exercise, like most of us who have recently learned we are sick, there are some important rules as to exercising. Here they are:
- Start slowly and gradually build endurance.
- Use only low-impact exercises.
- Stretch before and after exercising.
- Adopt a routine you like.
The absolute best exercises for you at the beginning are walking and swimming. Both will help you gradually build both confidence and stamina. Running is not recommended. Do not decide to suddenly take up tennis or racket ball. Full court basketball will like wise kill you.
My favorites are swimming, treadmill and exercise bike. I also use lightweights. I am not trying to look like Charles Atlas or Arnold in his prime. I am trying to tone my muscles and create slow twitch muscles. Toned muscles require much less blood pressure than non-toned muscles.
The benefits of exercise, concisely stated are:
- A general feeling of well being
- Stress, anxiety and depression reduction
- Improved sleep patterns
- Reduction in appetite, especially for fatty, salty foods.
- An improved sense of humor
Diet for Prevention and Maintenance of Heart Disease
In the news above about exercise is not bad enough, going on a staying on a strict heart healthy diet only makes matters worse. The news gets even worse, if that is possible, if you are thirty or more pounds overweight. If you are fifty or more pounds overweight, you are facing an abyss of heart trouble. If you are even heavier than that, all I can ask is "Have you done a will?" There is direct link between the amount you weigh and your chances for any kind of quality life and your very survival.
Most people over fifty pounds overweight don't have to worry about having heart attacks. They are only going to have one. If you weigh over 100 pounds too much your heart is going to one day just explode. You will be dead in less than seven minutes. And, it will hurt. Right up to the time you pass out. Here are the rules about diet for living with heart disease:
- A heart healthy diet is an essential. A heart healthy diet is:
- Low in fat especially Low Density Lipids
- Low in salt
- Low in sugar
- Avoids red meat
- High in salt water fish like salmon
- High in fresh fruits and vegetables
- Low in snack food
- High in grains, legumes and beans
- A good diet balances the energy output requirements against total dietary caloric intake. However, if you are way overweight the first requirement is to get that extra weight off your butt and the other unsightly places your body is storing it on.
The benefits of a heart healthy diet are:
- You weight will come down
- Your cholesterol levels will come down
- Your body will not store as much water weight
- You will feel much better
- You will have more energy
- Your blood pressure will come down
- You will sleep better
- You will be regular
Medicine for the Prevention and Maintenance of Heart Disease
Drugs are the last of the preventive measures you must take. The drugs you will be required to take fall into the following categories:
- Blood Pressure medicines reduce your body’s blood pressure and stop your heart from literally beating itself to death.
- Anti-Cholesterol drugs reduce the overall cholesterol count by eliminating mainly LDL fats from the blood stream
- Diuretics reduce water retention and then reduce edema in the ankles and legs
- Blood thinners, especially for people with artificial valves and stents, reduce the ability of the blood to coagulate and therefore reduce the chance of blood clots.
The only thing remaining to ensure living a long time with heart disease is continual vigilance on your part. Continual vigilance includes:
- Good dental care
- Being on guard against infections especially bad colds, flu and pneumonia
- See your doctors on a regular basis
Stay well, live long and prosper.