Heart Healthy for Life

It’s Heart Month and you’ve probably heard the usual mantra for maintaining health and preventing heart disease:  “eat right, exercise, and control your stress.” Yet, even after following these recommendations, you could suddenly face an ominous diagnosis: Your heart has suffered an injury or is in imminent danger of suffering one. Talk about conflicting emotions - anger at the diagnosis, and relief to still be alive.

You may ask yourself, “Can I go back to my job? Can I go back to my exercise routine?  Will I damage my heart further? Would it be safer to not exert myself at all?” Gradually you stop doing all that made your life meaningful to you, and loved ones may be worried you’ll aggravate your condition simply by resuming normal activities.

Studies have proven that bed rest, which is usually recommended, is actually detrimental to functional recovery. Prolonged rest promotes deconditioning and loss of muscle mass. The weaker your limbs are, the greater the demands on your heart. Daily activities that were once simple can become strenuous.

You can stop this downward spiral by understanding the specifics of your particular diagnosis and when to resume exercising.

If you have a medical or surgical diagnosis involving your heart, it’s important to:

  • Discuss an exercise program with your doctor, including any limitations of your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Determine what types of symptoms during exercise should be reported to your doctor.
  • Gradually resume daily activities.
  • Listen to your gut. If doing this on your own is not advisable or makes you nervous, ask your doctor about cardiac rehabilitation.

With the backing of strong scientific evidence, cardiac rehabilitation is considered the gold standard in the treatment and prevention of heart disease. 

The Cardiac Rehabilitation program at St. Luke’s Performance Medicine is designed to help people with heart disease return to optimal health and an improved quality of life. The program is individualized, medically supervised by a cardiologist, and provided by specialized staff. It includes exercise, education, dietary counseling and stress management.  Musculoskeletal evaluation is included to ensure safety with exercise. Close monitoring during exercise is provided to enhance safety and provide the confidence needed to exercise independently.  Extra support for coping with heart disease is provided for those in need.

Ask your doctor if cardiac rehab is right for you. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 936-266-3130.