The heart is such a remarkable organ and the realm of diagnoses that relate to the heart and its ability to function normally, is broad. Almost just as broad are the many advances that have been made in diagnosing, treating and managing heart related conditions. Today we are ever so fortunate to have options for us and our family members to become heart-healthy.
Treatments include advances in medications - even something as seemingly simple as taking a baby aspirin each day to reduce blood clotting. There are drugs to lower cholesterol build up in the arteries that supply the heart muscle so they are less likely to clog up. Then there are drugs to lower the blood pressure so the heart doesn't have to work so hard to do its job. Other medications control the heart rhythm so it can beat normally and be the fine-tuned pump it was designed to be. There are even medicines to make the heart muscle be stronger.
Surgical interventions also abound! Cardiac surgeons can replace a heart valve that is not working properly or to use grafts to increase the blood supply to the heart muscle. Even implantable devices to control the heart's rhythm such as a pacemaker or defibrillator are available.
Thus, diagnosis, medicine and surgery have made great advances in reducing complications and even death from heart disease. What is sometimes more of a challenge, is to manage heart conditions in everyday life. This includes self-care for the person with the illness and the support of the whole family in adjusting to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Yet, this adjustment is ever so important as heart conditions tend to be genetic and early prevention is wise.
What can you as a caregiver and your whole family do to become hearthealthy?
- Prepare and eat foods with reduced animal fats and salt
- Practice stress reduction techniques - even as simple as deep breathing
- Stay away from smoking of any type and also second hand smoke
- Incorporate aerobic exercise into everyday routines
At your school, your Family Specialist of the Caregiving Youth Project can help you evaluate what changes you and your family can make for matters of the heart and to become more heart-healthy. Or, if you are unable to connect at school, help is a phone call away at 561.391.7401.