Take charge of your heart health in 7 steps
If you have heart disease, have you found the right doctor or joined a support group? We offer seven healthy heart tips.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, but it doesn’t have to be.
Be smart about helping your body. Work with your doctor as a partner, and change your habits to live life to the fullest after a diagnosis of heart disease.
Follow these seven healthy heart tips to take charge of your heart health and your life:
- Empower yourself. Start thinking and acting proactively. Learn about your condition, treatment options and the steps you can take to make your therapy a success. Take responsibility for doing all you can to positively affect your health. Learn more about your heart disease risk in this quiz — or share it with someone you care about.
- Choose the right doctor. This is one of the most important medical decisions you’ll make. Ask friends and medical professionals for recommendations, then check the doctor’s background. Follow your intuition. Don’t go to a doctor if you have doubts about his or her training, track record or manner.
- Make the most of your doctor visits. Write down a list of your concerns before your appointment, then ask your most important questions first.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions. For example, your doctor may recommend that you quit smoking, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, control diabetes, eat a low-fat diet or exercise regularly. Making these lifestyle changes may reverse the progression of heart disease and reduce your chances of a heart attack or stroke.
- Have an emergency plan. Ask your doctor which symptoms you should watch for and what you should do if they appear. Call 911 or your local emergency-response number if you believe you’re having a heart attack or stroke.
- Involve your family. Heart disease affects your family, too, and having their support can help you make necessary lifestyle changes more easily. Ask family members to learn about your condition. Take them to one of your doctor appointments and let them ask questions about your treatment. You and your family can take a CPR class to prepare in case you or someone in your community has a heart emergency.
- Join a support group. Ask your doctor, hospital community service liaison or your local affiliate of the American Heart Association to recommend a heart-patient group in your area. These groups vary in character and objectives so plan on visiting a few of them before deciding which one is right for you.
Apply these healthy heart tips, and learn more about the Vanderbilt Heart team.