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Top 10 Ways to Live Long with Heart Disease


Updated June 15, 2007

So you have been diagnosed with heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or some other form of cardiovascular illness. Heart problems often emerge as your heart adjusts to aging. The good news? You can do a lot to control and sometimes reverse these conditions by making lifestyle changes in your life. These changes will not only help your condition, but they'll give you more energy, make you feel better and help you live longer. Go through these 10 items one at a time. When you master one, move onto another that interests you. When you are done with the list, you likely will be healthier.

1. Hire a Personal Trainer

Your heart is a muscle and it needs its exercise, or it will grow soft and flabby. Getting started in exercise -- especially if you aren't at your peak form right now -- can be mentally and physically challenging.

First, talk with your doctor and get specific guidelines for how much exercise you should do, and how to recognize the signs of overexertion.

Next, find a gym that has personal trainers. The trainer can help make sure that your efforts are going to pay off, and that you are doing the exercises correctly.

Give yourself the best chance you can at jump-starting an exercise program -- hire a trainer.

2. Hire a Nutritionist/Dietitian

You will probably only need 1 or 2 consultations with a nutritionist to learn volumes about what you are eating, what you should be eating, and why. To get the most out of your consultation, bring 2 or 3 days of food logs with you. A food log is simply a record of everything you eat or drink in a day, the times you ate or drank it, and the amounts. This will help the nutritionist tailor a program to your life.

3. Banish your Enemies

You have food enemies -- you know what they are: cookies, ice cream, chips or maybe candy.
  • You must banish these from your house, from your car, from your office.
  • You can no longer purchase these items.
  • You can no longer eat them on a regular basis.

If they show up at a party or special occasion you can have some -- but you can no longer buy or seek them out. Ever.

4. Relax a Little

Stress constricts your blood vessels, and this makes it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body. Relax. Let the events of the day wash over you. Learn relaxation breathing. Try to keep the big picture in mind -- ask yourself, will the stress triggers matter five years from now? Will you even remember them?

5. Smile

Smiling does all sorts of good for your body. You can actually trick your body and mind into being happy by smiling. Put a smile on your face while
  • standing in line
  • while driving
  • while writing e-mails
You'll be amazed at the change. Practice by smiling every time you look at a clock. This will add hundreds of smiles to your day.

6. Learn to Cook

Have you ever been amazed by restaurants? You can walk in, order any one of 70 items off a menu and a few minutes later your meal arrives warm and delicious. It is like a miracle. And the name of that miracle is butter. Restaurants use fats and butter to cover up so-so ingredients, overwarming and other sins of necessity. By learning to cook and eating at home, you can be in control of your food. Use fresh ingredients and take some cooking classes.

7. Monitor and Record

  • Monitor your blood pressure weekly, keep your test results in a folder for easy access.
  • Have your cholesterol tested every few months.
  • Keep track of your medical information.
  • Know what medications you are on, who your doctors are and what your medical goals are.

By keeping all this information at your fingertips, you can help your doctor(s) plan the best medical care for you.

8. Take Your Medicine

If you doctor has prescribed medicine for you, take it. Figure out what you need to do to take your medicine at the right times and following the suggestions. There are some really excellent medications on the market now that have helped millions of people avoid heart attacks and other problems. Be 100 percent compliant with your doctor's orders.

9. Invest in People

People with health conditions do better if they have strong social relationships. Your spouse, friend, or family member can be there to
  • help you overcome challenges
  • make lifestyle changes
  • and assist you if you are ill.

It has also been shown that having close relationships will also help you reduce stress and improve healing. So take a second honeymoon, go on a buddy fishing trip, or have a spa day with someone you care about.

10. Celebrate Life

Life is good. Celebrate the progress you make in creating a healthier you.
  • Celebrate your success, the people around you.
  • Seek out and enjoy wonderful things.
  • Don't get caught in routines and ruts that eat away your days.
  • Plan to celebrate something every week -- go to art museums, symphonies, and jazz bars.
  • Build something.
  • Paint, draw, play.

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