4 Ways to Live With a Heart Disease Diagnosis

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Some health diagnoses can make your heart skip a beat when you hear your doctor break the news. Or take your breath. Heart disease is one of these.

But, once you catch your breath and composure, you can manage and live with heart disease. Here are four ways you can do that.

1. Keep Track Of Your Symptoms 

The key to managing heart disease is following your health care team’s treatment plan, keeping track of your symptoms, and telling your doctor when you see a change.

Following are symptom changes that you should tell your health care provider, because they could be a sign you need a change in medication or other treatment:

  • Shortness of breath, unrelated to exercise
  • Rapid weight gain. If she hasn’t told you already, ask your doctor what amount of weight gain you should report to her. If you are being treated for heart failure, you should weigh yourself daily. The best time is before breakfast and after urinating. For consistency, wear the same type of clothes, without shoes, on the same scale, and in the same place, every weigh in.
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Increased swelling of your legs or ankles, or swelling or pain in your abdomen
  • Difficulty sleeping – and waking up short of breath
  • A frequent dry, hacking cough
  • Appetite loss
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Feelings of sadness or depression are also a reason to check in with your doctor. This could be caused by your medicine – or could be a normal reaction to your heart disease diagnosis. 

A diagnosis of depression requires a total of five of the following symptoms lasting at least two weeks:

  • Depressed mood
  • Inability to enjoy activities that usually give you joy
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Appetite changes (eating too little or too much), accompanied by changes in weight
  • Behavior changes, such as being agitated or sluggish
  • Decreased energy
  • Sense of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty with concentration or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

2. Put Your Health First

As a woman you’re more than likely caring for others: your children, significant other, grandchildren, or aging parents. 

But don’t forget about you. By putting your health first and taking care of yourself, you’ll be there for the ones you love, too. This means keeping doctor’s appointments and being honest with your doctor about how you feel. Don’t hold anything back. 

And don’t dismiss your concerns as not being important. Sure, it could be nothing. But leave that up to your health care provider to determine after examining you.

The key to managing heart disease is following your health care team’s treatment plan, keeping track of your symptoms, and telling your doctor when you see a change.

3. Ask For Help

By all means, share your concerns with family and friends, the people who love and care about you. But also consider professional counseling or joining a support group of people who are experiencing what you’re going through. There’s nothing like a support group to remind you that you’re not alone. Ask your doctor for recommendations. 

Getting help like this can ease the stress of dealing with heart disease and lead you to information, education, and support to help you live with your diagnosis.

4. And There’s More….

Following are a few bonus tips to help you manage and live with heart disease, with your doctor’s guidance:

  • Stay as active as possible. You don’t have to join a gym. But keep moving.
  • Make healthy food choices and follow food labels.
  • Engage in activities you enjoy, to reduce stress and make the most out of life.
  • Don’t expect overnight change. Take life one step at a time as you follow the advice above.