Eating well and exercising regularly are key to managing several risk factors for heart disease. To get free heart-healthy recipes and tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, sign up for Esstential Habits®.
Take your medicines as prescribed
It is important to take all of your medicines, including Effient® (prasugrel), exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Each medicine in your regimen is there for a reason. It is also important to get your refills on time so you do not run out of medicine.
If you smoke, quit
If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, your risk of having a heart attack is more than twice that of a person who has never smoked. Smoking also increases the risk for sudden cardiac death in people with coronary heart disease. Your doctor can recommend the best method for you to stop smoking.
Manage your calories
If your doctor recommends that you lose weight, first learn how many calories you should consume to maintain your desired weight. Then adjust your diet and increase your level of activity. Your doctor can help determine the right plan for you. Learn more about typical calorie consumption from the American Heart Association site.
Watch your cholesterol levels
Desired cholesterol levels vary by the individual. Work with your doctor to find the right cholesterol level for you.
Eat a balanced diet
To achieve a balanced, heart-healthy diet, try nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain foods, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, lean meats or poultry.
Don't worry. Eating healthier doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. The food you prepare at home can be fun, relaxing, economical, and most important, healthier than restaurant meals. When you cook in your own kitchen, you have greater control over how the food is prepared, as well as over the fat content, total calories and nutrition level.
Here are some examples of ways to eat healthy:
- Gather recipes and cookbooks that focus on keeping your heart in good health
- Choose “choice” or “select” cuts of beef and remove excess fat
- Choose leaner, light meat like chicken breasts; avoid dark meat such as legs and thighs, which have more fat; and always remove the skin before cooking
- For egg dishes, substitute two egg whites for each egg yolk
- Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese
- Choose reduced-fat, low-fat, light or no-fat salad dressings
- Reduce your salt intake
Read food labels
By reading food labels carefully, you can avoid foods with “empty” calories, which are foods high in calories but relatively low in essential nutrients. When examining labels, be aware of foods that contain undesirable ingredients such as sodium, saturated fats, added sugars and trans fats. Learn more about how to read food labels from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration site.
Ease into exercise
Exercise is a proven way to modify your risk factors for heart disease and help maintain overall mental and physical health. By making exercise a regular part of your daily routine, you may enjoy any or all of these benefits:
- Strengthened heart and lungs
- Improved circulation
- Increased endurance
- Lowered blood pressure
Tips for a successful exercise program
As you begin exercising, consider these tips to help make your recovery as successful as possible.
Take it slow
It's great to be enthusiastic about exercise, just don't get carried away too soon. Work with your doctor to determine what level of exercise is right for you.
Keep it fun and comfortable
Why not get your exercise doing something you like? It could be working out at the gym, walking, dancing, biking or even working in the yard or garden. To make exercise even more enjoyable, try wearing loose, comfortable clothes and supportive footwear, and try listening to your favorite music while you exercise.
Get some support
Finding an exercise “buddy” is a great way to keep motivated. Even when no workout partner is available, you can still look to friends and family for support and encouragement. All you have to do is ask.
Mix it up
Identify a variety of activities you enjoy and switch between them on a regular basis. That way you'll avoid the risk of exercise seeming boring or stale.
You can also get your exercise while doing household chores like vacuuming, dusting and mowing the lawn.
Create a schedule
Even the best fitness program is worthless if you can never seem to fit it into your day. Find the best location and most convenient time to plan your workout. Then make it a priority by writing it into your daily schedule. Of course, there will be times when you can't keep your exercise “appointment.” When that happens, just get back on track the next day.
Note your success
Note your exercise activity so you can track your progress and success. When you achieve a milestone, do something to reward yourself. You should enjoy the good job you're doing.
Go by the numbers
It's a lot easier to exercise properly and measure your progress when you know two important numbers: your BMI and your target heart rate. BMI is a measure of your weight scaled according to your height. Learn more about BMI from the American Heart Association site. Check with your doctor to determine your target heart rate, and you can then monitor your pulse while exercising.