Preparing for change
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you to speed up your recovery and reduce the risk of having another heart attack, or episode of unstable angina.
Here’s how to get cracking with those positive changes, without feeling overwhelmed.
Decide on your priorities
You may have been sent home from hospital with lots of advice about lifestyle changes to make – from healthier eating, exercise, stopping smoking and managing stress. But now you need to decide where to start.
A good first step is to talk to your doctor about what you need to prioritise. Then begin by making small changes. Making realistic changes bit by bit - rather than trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle in one go – is likely to be most effective in the long run.
Try these simple ‘First Step’ ideas…
1. Start the day with a bowl of porridge (oats have cholesterol-lowering properties)1 .
2. Walk to the corner shop to buy the daily newspaper, or make it your goal to take the dog for a walk every day.
3. Have a big juicy pear or a crisp apple for elevenses
4. When you’re well enough (your GP will advise you), book in for that personal training session you’ve always fancied, get your name down on the list for the allotment you promised yourself, or make it your business to finally pass on your cricketing skills to your grandchildren.
5. Eat from a smaller plate, to help reduce portion sizes.
Tips for making successful changes
If you’re finding it hard to make lifestyle changes, these tips from health psychology specialist Clare Moloney 2may help:
1 Remind yourself WHY you’re making the changes. Taking your medication as prescribed can help you to recover. There’s good evidence that being overweight, doing little or no exercise, eating an unhealthy diet and drinking too much alcohol will make it more likely that you’ll have another heart attack. 3
2 Get support. From healthcare professionals to family and friends, don’t be afraid to ask for support. If you’re not enrolled on a Cardiac Rehab programme, ask your GP about it. If you want to stop smoking, get support from the NHS stop smoking scheme. Call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0169.
3 Make it as enjoyable as possible. If you don’t like something – going to the gym, for example – you’re less likely to stick to it, so it’s much better to choose an activity that you find pleasure in, such as gardening, walking the dog, dancing or playing badminton.
FIND OUT MORE:
You can find some more great tips on boosting your motivation to make changes here.
1Rgia A Othman, Mohammed H Moghadasian, Peter Jh Jones; Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 69, Issue 6, 1 June 2011, Pages 299–309, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00401.x; abstract at:https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article-abstract/69/6/299/1815168?redirectedFrom=fulltext , Accessed November 2018
2Permission to Publish, Clare Moloney, Health psychology specialist, Atlantis Healthcare
3https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiovascular-disease/#causes-of-cvd, Accessed November 2018