Last Updated on 8 months by Isreal Olabanji DST RN
It’s a turning point in your life, but you can move things forward and lead a healthier lifestyle when you are diagnosed with a heart condition. Having a heart condition or heart failure doesn’t actually mean “stopped” or “failure”, and the more than 6 million people in America with heart failure understand that they still have their share of life.
If you have a heart condition, it means that you have to change your lifestyle now, and not tomorrow. You also need to have a new way of thinking, because your mental health is overwhelmed, you are surely living with a chronic and serious disease. You can’t take chances, you have to shift things immediately for the sake of your health.
Lynne Warner Stevenson, a medical doctor, and director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s program on cardiomyopathy and heart failure says, “First of all, heart failure is an unfortunate and inaccurate term,” adding, “It usually means that the heart is handicapped, not that it can’t function.”
Everyone will tell you that heart failure is a serious disease, and now you have this pair of words “failure” and “serious” all appearing in every conversation and talk about the condition you have. The talk itself is as scaring as the disease, and if you aren’t careful, your mental wellbeing is disoriented and stress and depression could easily take their toll on your life.
Having a heart condition or heart failure doesn’t mean you are isolated from life. It doesn’t mean that you are cut off from other people around you. You may have the feeling that your life has fallen out from below your feet, and you are in great danger, however, you need to realize that everyone’s life is uncertain, so being diagnosed with a heart condition doesn’t mean that it is the end of the world. If you make some changes in your lifestyle, you can still live a productive and fulfilling life with the condition.
It’s true that you will experience emotional distress and disturbance in behavioral patterns. When you have a heart condition, anxiety and depression will begin to further push you down. Anxiety and depression not only wreck your emotional state but also impact on the symptoms you are having for heart disease.
When Jeff Blanchard, a comedian was diagnosed with heart failure, it was sad news for him and the family. He had put on a lot of weight and things weren’t going on so well in regard to his heart health. For more than six years, Jeff wasn’t taking it seriously to confront his heart conditions and the problem of weight gain.
Blanchard recalls the moments in the hospital after the condition became serious in 2011, “It was the most bizarre time,” he says, further mentioning, “All through the night there were ‘code blues’ going on, and I’m literally half the age of everyone there. Every time it’s going off, I’m checking the monitor to make sure it’s not me.”
Many of the patients who were in the hospital were twice his age, and he would wonder, “Why do I have to be here with these older people?”
Follow Your Plan
If you have heart disease, you have to strictly follow what the doctor says. You need to take the medications, have a no-sodium diet, and go for checkups or follow up appointments as scheduled. A big problem that you may encounter when living with a heart condition is slipping back to habits that triggered it. You may have been smoking, taking drugs, and taking unhealthy diet in the past, however, at some point you changed your lifestyle only for you to revert to same damaging habits later on in life.
You have to say no to any kind of habit that would plunge you into a dangerous life with a heart condition. You can’t get into smoking once you’ve stopped, it is going to put you in danger.
When Blanchard got a job of doing a radio show, he quickly went back to the old harmful habits and soon his weight ballooned, his attitude dipped, and we were hopeless. He was there taking his favorite cheese dip and struggling with weight gain. However, when the radio show gig ended in 2011, Blanchard came back to his senses. He looked into his situation from a different perspective, the cheese dip he loved taking when watching Super Bowl, and the disgust of his son because of having habits that ruined his weight and contributed to heart failure problem. From that point in life, he got serious and decided to do something about his weight gain problem and the heart condition.
Joining a support group and surrounding yourself with really nice people makes life a lot easier. When you have people associating with you physically or otherwise, at least you aren’t going through the experience alone. These people will lift your hopes, they will offer the mental support you need and you can lean on their shoulder in those rare moments when you are so weak.
Support groups also help you share your experiences, and you get to interact with others who have to go through the same situations. Support groups for people living with heart conditions are inspiring, encouraging, and full of hope. By sharing your experiences, you lessened the mental load and burden that you feel you are carrying. It also makes you discover new tactics to cope and manage your condition. You need to exercise, but how do you go about it if you lack the motivation?
In support groups, you can learn what exercises work for different individuals and you can tailor them to meet your individual needs. Besides, you know how other patients have managed to beat the unhealthy eating habits. The cheese dips Blanchard was having may seem like easy to live without, however, you find that it’s like you are addicted, you still take them even though you know they are ruining your weight control efforts.
Blanchard gets group support from Weight Watchers and he at least walks three times every week to keep physically fit and help manage weight. He has shied away from the unhealthful diet and other habits that put him in danger. Heart conditions are serious ailments and people need to stop habits that put them at risk of having these conditions.
Most illegal drugs and alcohol affect the health of the cardiovascular system. They can cause abnormal heart rate, heart attacks, seizures, collapsed veins, respiratory arrest, and infections of blood vessels or heart valves with virus and bacteria. Stopping taking drugs can help improve your heart health.
Consuming high amounts of alcohol can hurt an individual’s heart. It can lead to diseases that affect the heart muscle, for example, cardiomyopathy. Regular consumption of alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Addiction is a big problem to those who take drugs and alcohol, and unless it is managed effectively, it puts the individuals at a greater risk of suffering from heart ailments, social problems, crimes, and financial losses. Rehab facilities can provide help for alcoholics and prevent further harm from occurring due to the use of the substances.
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