How do I Reverse Heart Disease?

How do I reverse heart disease?

1. Change your diet.

Altering your eating habits is a crucial step to improving your heart health. This will also help manage your weight which also affects your heart condition.

Change your meals to include more fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grain, fish, and lean meat.

Avoid processed foods that contain high salt and preservatives, red meat, and excess calories.

2. Eat a heart-healthy breakfast.

A good breakfast that may help with reversing heart disease would include grains and fruit.

Try 1 cup (250 ml) of cooked oatmeal topped with a tablespoon (14.7 ml) of chopped walnuts and a teaspoon (5 ml) of cinnamon. Add a banana and a cup (250 ml) skim milk.

Another way to go could be a cup (250 ml) of plain low-fat yogurt topped with three-quarters of a cup (187.5 ml) of blueberries. Drink three-quarters of a cup (187.5 ml) of orange juice.

3. Consume a lunch that promotes good heart health.

A heart-healthy lunch will have a good portion of vegetables along with grains, fruit, and perhaps some low-fat dairy products.

A sample lunch might include a cup (250 ml) of low-fat plain yogurt with a teaspoon (5 ml) of ground flax-seed, a half cup (125 ml) of peach halves canned in juice, five Melba toast crackers, a cup (250 ml) of raw broccoli and cauliflower, and two tablespoons (29.4 ml) of low-fat cream cheese (plain or vegetable flavor) as a spread for crackers — or you can use vegetable dip. Drink sparkling water.

Another idea for lunch is a whole-wheat pita filled with a cup (250 ml) of shredded romaine lettuce, a half cup (125 ml) of sliced tomato, a quarter cup (62.5 ml) of sliced cucumbers, two tablespoons (29.4 ml) of crumbled feta cheese, and a tablespoon (14.7 ml) reduced-fat ranch dressing. Add a kiwi and drink a cup (250 ml) of skim milk.

4. Eat a sensible, heart-healthy dinner.

Your major protein portion can be with this meal, but you still want a balance of grains, fruits, and vegetables.

A potential dinner for reversing heart disease might include a 4-ounce (113 g) grilled turkey burger (whole grain bun), a half cup (125 ml) of green beans with a tablespoon (14.7 ml) of toasted almonds, two cups (473 ml) of mixed salad greens with two tablespoons (29.4 ml) of low-fat salad dressing, and one tablespoon (14.7 ml) of sunflower seeds. Add one cup (250 ml) of skim milk and one orange.

Another idea for dinner is a chicken stir-fry including eggplant, basil, a cup (250 ml) of brown rice with a tablespoon (14.7 ml) of chopped dried apricots, and a cup (250 ml) of steamed broccoli. Drink four ounces (113.6 ml) of red wine or concord grape juice.

A little bit of alcohol is okay, but keep it limited.

5. Make your snacks sensible.

You don't want to ruin your heart-healthy diet by snacking on the wrong items.

Try a snack such as a cup (250 ml) of skim milk and nine animal crackers.

Another snack idea might be three graham cracker squares and a cup (250 ml) of fat-free frozen yogurt.

Keep healthy snacks such as a fruit so you don't over-eat during meals.

6. Consume alcohol and chocolate in moderation.

These two products can help — and hurt — your heart disease condition. If you consume them then you need to do so in moderation.

Alcohol sometimes can benefit your heart if you can limit your drinks to one or two per day. Additional drinks will increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and raise your blood pressure.

Chocolate has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease in some consumers by nearly 40 percent, and reduced the risk of stroke by 30 percent; however, you should only consume dark chocolates for this purpose. Select small portions of dark chocolates with high cacao content — at least 70 percent.

Making Other Lifestyle Changes

1. Lose weight.

Losing weight through healthy eating and exercise may help reverse heart disease. Losing weight can improve your blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce risk of diabetes, and even reverse some heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation. By following recommendations for a healthy diet and incorporating exercise into your daily life you can prevent and possibly reverse heart disease — sometimes even without the use of medication.

2. Work out daily.

You don't want to put a strain on your heart and body either, but you want to get your heart pumping as part of a daily routine. Before beginning any exercise program, consult your doctor to make sure it is appropriate.

Set aside at least 30 minutes for working out at least 4 or 5 times a week.

Use most of the workout days for cardiovascular exercises like running, brisk walking, biking, and/or swimming.

Include strength training workouts on two to three days of the week. You only need to do about 20 minutes of strength training to benefit, so you can do these in addition to cardio or on days when you skip cardio.

If you have a busy schedule then find ways to get a workout in, even if you have to break it up. For example, do a 15 minute run in the morning, and then another 15 minutes in the evening.

Quit smoking and using any other tobacco products, as well. You need to do this not only for your heart's health but to improve your ability to workout.

3. Lower your cholesterol.

You will need to ask your doctor to test your cholesterol levels.

If you're already at least 20 years old, then you should consider asking your doctor for a cholesterol test to establish a baseline.

Your doctor will determine what schedule is best for you given your condition, and family history, but get tested at least every five years.

Warning signs in the test, a family history of cholesterol, and/or a family history of heart problems may mean you need to get tested earlier and more often.

Most of the diet changes mentioned in this article also help lower your cholesterol. This would be a diet low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and low in refined carbohydrates.

Exercise, as mentioned in an earlier step, also helps lower cholesterol.

Your doctor may also recommend taking fish oil supplements.

4. Control your blood sugar.

This is more for those who are diagnosed with diabetes, but the strategies for dealing with the condition are often related to preventing heart disease. Controlling your blood sugar may help prevent or reverse heart disease.

Most of the meal options to help with reversing heart disease should help with blood sugar management.

Additionally, your doctor may prescribe a number of forms of insulin in different doses with varying delivery methods, from inhaled to injected. Oral medications, such as tablets and capsules, may be prescribed instead of, or in addition to, insulin. Consult with your doctor closely to monitor drug usage in conjunction with your other conditions.

5. Reduce your stress

It might help to identify some sources of stress if you need help eliminating them.

Let anyone at school, work, and home know you have a heart condition and see about getting a reduced workload.

Look into relaxation programs at your local gym, spa, or recreation center. Deep breathing, massages, and muscle relaxation techniques could all be beneficial.

Tackle any bouts of depression with therapy. You might consult with your doctor about recommended psychologists that deal with patients in your physical and mental condition.

6. Use good hygiene techniques.

With your heart already in a vulnerable condition you don't want to add to your body's woes by risking infection.

Avoid people with infections such as colds, the flu, unidentified rashes, and the like.

Keep up to date with your vaccinations.

Maintain a good washing routine by washing your face, washing hands, showering, bathing, brushing your teeth, and flossing.

Considering Medical Procedures

1. Take heart medicine.

If lifestyle changes are not enough to reverse your heart disease, then your doctor may prescribe medication. The prescription will vary greatly with your specific condition.

Always take your medicine exactly as your doctor instructs.

The list of medication types that deal with heart disease is extensive. The drugs typically deal with the blood or blood vessels in some way, but a few others handle the disease from other angles such as displacing excess fluid or controlling the heart rhythm.

2. Take angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

These drugs widen (dilate) blood vessels to improve blood flow with the heart and lower blood pressure.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers work to the same effect as ACE inhibitors but do so by reducing certain chemicals in the body. These drugs also reduce some fluid and salt build-up in the body. They may be prescribed if the patient cannot tolerate the cough that is sometimes caused by taking ACE inhibitors.

3. Take drugs to correct abnormal heart rhythms.

These medicines will affect arrhythmia conditions.

These are also called anti-arrhythmia drugs.

4. Ingest drugs for stroke conditions.

These include blood thinners and aspirin.

Antiplatelet drugs prevent blood clots from forming — a frequent cause of strokes. Since the 1970s, aspirin has been used to prevent and manage heart disease as well as strokes. Warfarin (Coumadin) is an anticoagulant. It helps prevent blood clots from forming like other blood thinners.

5. Control your blood pressure.

There are several drugs that regulate blood pressure to prevent heart disease or reverse it.

Beta-blockers are drugs that treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and congestive heart failure.

Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels to increase blood and oxygen flow to the heart without increasing stress on the heart muscle.

Diuretics (water pills) remove water and salt through urination. This eases the heart's ability to pump blood and regulates blood pressure.

6. Take medicines that break up blockages in the heart.

These drugs help with blood flow and coronary artery disease.

Thrombolytic therapy is usually given by hospitals through the veins (intravenous/IV) to break up blood clots. Sometimes they are called "clot busters."

Digoxin can help a damaged heart to regain some efficiency with pumping blood.

Nitrates (vasodilators) are used to treat angina (coronary artery disease or chest pain) caused by blockages of blood vessels in the heart.

7. Get heart surgery.

If your doctor determines that your lifestyle changes combined with medication are not enough to reverse your heart disease condition, then surgery may be the next step. There are a number of procedures available for heart disease cases, and recovery after heart surgery can take six to eight weeks of closely monitored care after discharge from the health care facility.

You may get a stent. Stents are small metal mesh tubes that can expand once in place in the artery. There are several types of angioplasty you could get instead, and stents are among them. In all cases a thin plastic tube is surgically inserted into the problem artery with a catheter. Next, the artery is expanded and the blockage removed.

Similar to a stent is an ablation. Ablation involves inserting a tube or directly cutting into your heart's blood vessels and intentionally scarring the tissue to get the heart to restart its beat to correct irregular rhythms.

Receive coronary artery bypass surgery. The surgeon will take a blood vessel from another part of the body and graft it onto the heart to give the blood another path to flow. This is one of the most common surgeries to correct heart disease.

Ask your doctor about procedures for heart arrhythmias. Most of these procedures involve electrical stimulation of the heart muscle to correct the rhythm.

Pacemakers are small devices that send electrical impulses to the heart to control the heart's rhythm.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) directly monitor and stimulate your heart rate.

Other electronic device correctives include enhanced external counter-pulsation (EECP) to cause blood vessels to develop branches, and create a natural bypass around problem arteries that angina (chest pain). It works by attaching blood pressure cuffs to both legs to compress blood vessels there until the branch vessels form then releasing the cuffs quickly.

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD or VAD) is a partial mechanical heart inside the chest and helps pump oxygenated blood throughout the body. But it is not a full replacement for the heart.

Receive heart transplant surgery. This is the replacement of one's diseased heart with the healthy heart from a deceased donor.

8. Recover from heart surgery.

If you have heart surgery, then you will need to take great care in your efforts after discharge from the hospital or care center. Recovery can last six to eight weeks.

Pay close attention to any instructions, lists, and medication given to you by your doctor and the hospital/care facility.

You may have some pain or discomfort around the surgical incision area. This is normal and you should be given a prescription for pain before leaving for home.

If you have any pain in the legs, especially for bypass surgery (usually leg veins are used for the graphs), try walking more for daily activities to lessen discomfort.

Driving may be unsafe immediately after surgery. You might have to wait the six to eight week period if this was a major operation — though it could be shorter if the operation was not as invasive. Riding in vehicles is fine.

You want to gradually resume your normal activities, but do not strain yourself. Resume household chores, but avoid remaining standing for more than 15 minutes at a time. Do not lift objects heavier than 10 pounds. Also don't push or pull heavy objects. Stair climbing should be okay unless your doctor says otherwise. Ask your doctor or assigned therapist for instructions on exercise.

A poor appetite is to be expected after surgery, but you should resume your heart-healthy eating habits unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

Keep in frequent contact with family and friends to avoid stress and depression.

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