Key changes go beyond just diet and exercise.
Being diagnosed with heart disease or having a heart attack is understandably frightening, but your fate is still in your hands. “The more you learn about heart disease, you want to learn to keep a healthy heart,” says heart attack survivor Yesenia Araujo. Committing to certain lifestyle changes can improve your heart health and reduce your chances of experiencing another heart attack.
And you don’t have to wait until a heart attack or a doctor’s diagnosis to make heart-healthy changes. Many of the same lifestyle choices that manage heart problems can also help prevent them from happening in the first place. (And don’t forget to know your heart disease risk factors, get familiar with your blood pressure numbers, and check your cholesterol regularly.)
Not sure where to start? Here are the lifestyle changes these four heart attack survivors made after the heart attacks that took them by surprise.
“I work out every day. I try to walk or exercise at the gym. [I check] my foods’ labels and [eat] less fried foods.”
—Yesenia Araujo, heart attack survivor
Live in the Moment
“I’m able to appreciate being in the moment more because of the way I ran my first New York City Marathon after my surgery. I couldn’t push myself, and time was out the window. It was such a blessing in my life because I experienced every sensory minute of the marathon, and I’ve taken that [outlook] into my real life.”
—Sammy Rabin, heart disease patient
“I need to eat properly and increase my activity level. [I’m] even just thinking about ways to decrease stress [and] focusing on living more in the moment. I try doing some meditation. I’m not really good at it yet, but it’s something I’ve been practicing.”
—Dawn Platt, heart attack survivor
Find Calm with Yoga
“One of the causes—if I have to pick a cause for my heart attack—would be stress. It wasn’t unheard of before my heart attack for me to work 100 hours a week, so now what I try to do is minimize the number of hours I work.
“The other thing that has actually been hugely helpful with the amount of stress is I do yoga most days. Actually my doctor says it has an effect on my blood pressure.”
—Shaun Clancy, heart attack survivor
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The more you educate
yourself about heart disease,
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you want to learn how to
keep a healthy heart.
00:00:08,181 --> 00:00:13,860
00:00:13,860 --> 00:00:17,989
I'm able to appreciate being in the
moment more because of the way I ran my
00:00:17,989 --> 00:00:20,980
first New York City Marathon
after my surgery.
00:00:20,980 --> 00:00:24,020
I couldn't push myself and
time was out the window.
00:00:24,020 --> 00:00:27,250
It was such a blessing in my life
because I experienced every sensory
00:00:27,250 --> 00:00:31,060
minute of the marathon, and
I've taken that into my real life.
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My healthcare needs now are pretty
much to live a healthy life.
00:00:34,270 --> 00:00:39,160
So I need to eat properly and
increase my activity level.
00:00:39,160 --> 00:00:42,210
Even just thinking about
ways to decrease stress,
00:00:42,210 --> 00:00:44,830
focusing on living more in the moment.
00:00:44,830 --> 00:00:49,740
I tried doing some meditation,
I'm not really good at it yet, but
00:00:49,740 --> 00:00:52,210
it's something that I've been practicing.
00:00:52,210 --> 00:00:55,280
One of the causes,
if I have to pick a cause for
00:00:55,280 --> 00:00:57,090
my heart attack, would be stress.
00:00:57,090 --> 00:01:01,610
So it wasn't unheard of before my heart
attack for me to work 100 hours a week.
00:01:01,610 --> 00:01:05,105
So now what I try to do is minimize
the number of hours I work.
00:01:05,105 --> 00:01:09,614
The other thing actually that has been
hugely helpful with dealing with stress is
00:01:09,614 --> 00:01:10,870
I do yoga most days.
00:01:10,870 --> 00:01:13,900
And actually my doctor has said it
has an effect on my blood pressure.
00:01:13,900 --> 00:01:18,870
I work out every day,
I try to walk or exercise at the gym.
00:01:18,870 --> 00:01:23,730
Checking my foods' labels and
eating less fried foods.
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Just live a healthy lifestyle.
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Lifestyle changes for heart attack prevention. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2018. (Accessed on February 20, 2018 at https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/LifeAfteraHeartAttack/Lifestyle-Changes-for-Heart-Attack-Prevention_UCM_303934_Article.jsp.)