What changes need to made for successfully living with heart disease?

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Answered by: jd, An Expert in the Living with Heart Disease Category
Once you get over the shock of having a heart attack and being diagnosed with heart disease you realize that there are many changes that you will have to make in your life. Living with heart disease is not really that hard once you accept the fact that change will have to occur and commit yourself to that change. There are three main areas where change will most likely need to occur: Diet, Exercise and Rest.

Diet - The most important thing to keep in mind when designing a diet that will enhance your living with heart disease is sustainability. The changes in your diet must become a natural part of your life so that you will be able to maintain them. A healthy diet for living with heart disease should include whole foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Many people advocate cutting out animal proteins and fats completely; but if this is difficult for you then you should try to limit animal products in your diet to a minimal level.

Meat should become a flavor more than a course. There are certain foods that will enhance healing of your heart: nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados are just a few of the healthy foods that will enhance your diet. Many people living with heart disease have to reduce their weight, so it is very important to add these fats and lipids carefully so that you don't begin to gain weight. The key to this is limiting portions. Small portions of high quality, good tasting foods are the key to a healthy diet.

Exercise -- No matter what your exercise habits were before your heart attack, the key to living with heart disease is making exercise a daily part of your life. You most likely will find that your energy is much lower than it was before the heart attack, so it might be harder to exercise at first. Don't make the mistake of cutting out exercise, though. it is vital to include physical activity as much as possible into your daily life. Walking is an excellent exercise to enhance living with heart disease.

It is easy to add walking into your daily routine. Instead of driving, walk whenever you can. Stop using elevators and take the stairs. Walking will help you build stamina and endurance, but you shouldn't neglect muscle building through resistance exercise and weight lifting. Take it easy, though. Living with heart disease means recognizing our limits and working within them.

Rest -- Sometimes the most difficult issue is rest. Many of us who are living with heart disease are used to constant activity and overwork; that's how we got into the situation we are in. Coming to terms with a weakened body and learning to build it up require regular rest periods. Fortunately our bodies will help with this, forcing us to rest at regular intervals.

It can be difficult to take the time we need to rest, even if our bodies are worn out. Meditation, reading, listening to music and other mental activities can help. Learning to rest is vital to living with heart disease because it helps us to build our body's strength. Learning to slow down helps us reduce stress that also contributes to the dangerous effects of heart disease.

Making changes to our diet, exercise routines and rest activities is not easy, but it is vital to learning to live with heart disease.

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