Keys To Heart Health

A few suggestions that can help your loved one with heart disease develop a healthier lifestyle.

Breaking old habits and learning new ones will be stressful for your loved one with heart disease. Wondering about his or her future health can be stressful, too. However, the support of family and friends, as well as health care providers, can make a big difference in how well your loved one adjusts.

As your loved one learns to manage his or her disease, he or she should pay careful attention to, and follow all the instructions of, his or her doctor. You can help by participating in your loved one’s treatment. Learn as much as you can about heart disease, and find out how to help your loved one manage it. And don’t make him or her go it alone. If the doctor prescribes a low-salt diet, or daily exercise, your loved one will be more likely to stick with the plan if you and other family members participate with him or her. After all, a heart-healthy style is good for anyone, not just someone with heart disease.


Encourage regular physical activity tailored to your loved one’s abilities, needs, and interests. Talk to your loved one’s doctor to find out and find out how much physical activity he or she recommends, then join your loved one in developing a daily exercise program that you both can enjoy. He or she will enjoy the company and you’ll get the health benefits, too.

Behavior Change

Learn specific skills to enable your loved one to stop unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and to encourage behaviors such as eating a heart-healthy diet. Together, you and your loved one can develop a healthier lifestyle that will help both of you feel better and live longer.


Seek advice on why and how to help your loved one change his or her lifestyle to lower his or her risk of further heart problems. Learning to live with heart disease can be a difficult adjustment, and both you and your loved one can benefit from attending support groups made up of heart disease victims and caregivers who know what you’re going through.

Cardiac Rehab Can Make A Difference

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is designed to help patients with heart disease recover faster and return to full and productive lives. Who can benefit from cardiac rehab?

  • Anyone who has heart disease, such as angina or heart failure, or has had a heart attack
  • Anyone who has had coronary bypass surgery or a balloon catheter (PTCA) procedure
  • Anyone who has had a heart transplant

Rehab is a safe and effective way to help your loved one:

  • Feel better faster
  • Get stronger
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce the risks of future heart problems
  • Live longer

Almost everyone with heart disease can benefit from some type of cardiac rehab. No one is too old or too young. Talk to your loved one’s doctor to find out if cardiac rehab right for him or her, and to get information about rehabilitation programs in your area.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Recovering From Heart Problems Through Cardiac Rehabilitation, AHCPR Publication No. 96-0647, United States Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

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