Living With Heart Disease Means Making Changes in Your Life


Bruce was a successful businessman who had everything… except a healthy heart. He didn’t know it until he found himself in hospital having double bypass surgery.

Wendy was an active woman who didn’t smoke, exercised faithfully, ate right, and surprised everyone, including herself, when she required an emergency angioplasty.

Darlene had no energy. In fact, lately it seemed her get up and go had got up and gone! When she investigated with her doctors, she was shocked to find out she needed a pacemaker. After her surgery, she had a new lease on life.

Dave was a smoker — and yes, he was a little overweight. He knew he had to make some changes – but once he had the heart attack he started taking it more seriously.

What these people have in common is that they all have heart disease. It’s the number one killer in North America. Every year hundreds of thousands die from heart disease. (451,326 in 2004*). But the good news is an estimated 80,700,000* people with some form of cardiovascular disease in the United States are living. Thanks to modern medicine, people like Bruce, Wendy, Darlene, Dave and countless others get a second chance. (* American Heart Association)

But living with heart disease can feel overwhelming. People know a lifestyle change is necessary, but often they don’t know where to start. Or they may have trouble staying motivated. Sometimes they don’t know where to turn to find resources such as heart rate or blood pressure monitors, exercise advice or equipment, or even heart-healthy recipes.

Sandra Thornton is one of the millions living with heart disease. After her heart event she was fortunate to participate in cardiac rehab but once she “graduated” she found herself feeling very alone. She looked for information, moral support, and all the resources to help her with her lifestyle changes. Not finding one single source, she created a website to help others. She also notes that having a heart event shakes your confidence. You feel as though your body let you down.

“I am creating a community for people living with heart disease,” she says. “A virtual place to find and share information about lifestyle changes. And a place for people to access and order the resources they need — no matter where they are. It can feel impossible if you live out in the country, or if you have difficulty getting out.” One such woman wrote “There is a long history of heart disease in my family… I find your website inspirational and I appreciate that I have found it just at the time when I am needing it.”

“I know what it’s like,” Thornton says. She was an energetic 51 year-old when she was unexpectedly admitted to a critical care bed in the cardiac care unit of her local hospital three years ago. The next day she had an angioplasty to clear a 90% blockage of her left anterior descending artery.

The location of the blockage, left untreated, would have resulted in a massive heart attack.

“I also learned I had a problem with my aortic valve (aortic stenosis),” she notes.

She experienced a rocky recovery – five stays in hospital, four angiograms, two angioplasties (she re-blocked), and six months off work.

Thornton is back on track with her life now, but she says, “It’s so important for people to have support to make the changes they need to make. A great medical team, the support of loved ones, the awareness of risk factors and how to reduce them, and access to the resources you need.”

And speaking of risk factors, there are only three risk factors for heart disease that you can’t control – your gender, your age, and your family genes. Everything else is up to you. Whether you are living with heart disease or you want to prevent it, here’s what you CAN do:

· Quit smoking – NOW!

· Get more active, start an exercise program, and lose excess weight

· Eat a heart-healthy diet – more whole foods, fruit, vegetables, fiber – less fat, salt, sugar and processed foods

· Manage your stress and make wise lifestyle choices

· Know and manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels

· Get regular checkups

Smart Heart Living provides information and resources to help people achieve and maintain a heart healthy lifestyle… especially those living with heart disease.
(c) 2008 Thornton Holdings Ltd.

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