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Heart Disease Health Center

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Living With Heart Disease

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    Your lifestyle affects your health, especially if you have heart disease. The little things you do each day really make a difference.

    Food and fitness matter. So do controlling stress and not smoking. And of course, you'll take your medicines and keep up with your doctor appointments and cardiac rehab.

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    Four years ago, Emmetsburg, Iowa, insurance agent Jim Wirtz, now 65, had triple bypass surgery. Just 10 days later, he was back at the office. Three weeks after that, he received a clean bill of health from his doctors, who said he could do any physical activity -- except shovel heavy snow. Wirtz took their advice, and he and his wife resumed having intercourse. "Stay in the game, whether it's sex or work," he says. "My own philosophy is, you just better live." Wirtz is doing what doctors say most...

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    Also, stay in touch with your mood. For many people, depression comes along with heart disease. If you notice that's true for you, reach out to your doctor for help in treating your depression.

    It may feel like you're going through a lot of changes all at once. It's a good idea to seek help from dietitians, doctors, and support groups to keep you on track.

    Some of the keys to making changes include:

    • Have a plan before starting.
    • Set realistic goals.
    • Make one change at a time. For example, quit smoking before changing your diet.
    • Write down your goal.
    • Prepare for lapses and relapses. They happen. What matters more is that you get back on track.
    • Reward yourself for your progress. Pick a reward that feels great and does not undermine your progress.
    • Keep up with your friends and family. Your social connections are good for you!

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 20, 2014
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