During National Heart Month, there are a couple of important ways you can show your heart some TLC: figure out how to maintain heart health, and learn how to best recover at home if you’ve undergone heart surgery.
Look After Your Heart
These easy steps can help improve and maintain heart health by keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control – two principal risk factors for heart problems, heart attack, and stroke.
- Improve your eating habits. We are really what we eat. Substitute foods that are loaded with saturated or trans-fat, salt, and sugar with healthier choices such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats including fish and poultry, lentils and beans, and low-fat dairy products.
- Lower your weight. For a person who is overweight, shedding even as little as 5% of overall body weight can make a positive change in blood pressure levels. Incorporating the recommended amount of aerobic workout (30 minutes most days of the week) is an excellent way to make this happen while strengthening the heart. Remember to talk with your doctor first, and start slowly, working your way up over time.
- Refrain from smoking cigarettes and secondhand smoke. Quit – or avoid starting – smoking. But be advised that even secondhand smoke can damage the heart.
- Limit stress. Life, particularly in the midst of a pandemic, is quite stressful. Take time for yourself each day for at least 15 minutes to take part in relaxing activities: reading a good book, listening to music, going for a walk, talking with friends, meditation or prayer.
- Visit the doctor routinely. At least annually, arrange for a checkup so that any new ailments can be identified and taken care of as soon as possible, and any existing issues can be kept in check.
If You Have Had a Heart Problem…
Recovering from cardiac arrest or surgery can be a complex process, often taking weeks or even months. During this time, you might have:
- Pain in your chest
- Mood swings or depression
- Appetite changes
- Swelling, numbness, tingling, or itchiness at the incision site
- Difficulty with sleeping
- Shortness of breath
- Short-term loss of memory or confusion
- Weakness and lack of energy
One of the recommended ways to improve this recuperation period is to work with a home care professional, such as Grace Home Care’s senior care experts in Topeka. Health care professionals typically recommend having someone in the home for at least the first few weeks of recovery from heart surgery. Our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in watching for changes in condition and reporting them right away, along with providing valuable support in a variety of ways, such as:
- Help with safely bathing and showering and getting dressed
- Companionship to take part in chats and activities to brighten each day
- Meal planning and preparation
- Housework and washing clothes
- Medication reminders
- Motivation and encouragement to adhere to the doctor’s recommended exercise plan
- Transportation to follow-up appointments
- Picking up prescriptions and running other errands
- And a lot more