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How to Support a Friend with Heart Disease

 

by Katie Morell

How To Help A Friend Suffering From Heart Disease

You want to support a friend with heart disease or be a part of a support system, and you’ve come to the right place to learn how. Your support can help her feel better about her diagnosis and can even help her make healthier life choices.

Listen

When discussing her heart diagnosis with you, one of the best things you can do is listen. While it may be tempting to tell her all the ways she can eat healthier or exercise more often, focus instead on hearing her concerns before rushing to give advice.

”Just listening is a really easy way to show someone you care,” says Carol D’Anca, a Chicago-based clinical nutritionist and owner of Food Not Meds, who has helped to support several women friends struggling with heart disease.

Get Informed

Chances are, your friend is going to the doctor quite a bit these days and may feel overwhelmed by the barrage of information given to her. Lighten her load by doing some research yourself, suggests D’Anca.

“Go online and help her with research about her condition and treatment options,” she says. “Work together to dig deeper and gain an understanding of what she is going through. Your willingness to help will go a long way.” Learn more About Heart Disease in women.

Socialize

Depression is an unfortunate byproduct of heart disease for many women. Upon receiving bad health news, they tend to shut themselves off from activities they once enjoyed. If this describes your friend, set up a regular social outing for the two of you (or invite others)—maybe a Tuesday afternoon tea hour or a movie night once a week.

“She will start to feel better emotionally when she feels love from others,” D’Anca says. “I also recommend helping them find a support group of others who are going through the same thing.

“Several of my friends have done this and it has brightened their moods tremendously, just knowing that they aren’t suffering alone.”

Get Active

Help improve your friend’s heart health by scheduling time to do activities together. Based on her likes and capabilities, organize a regular walk around the neighborhood or take a dance or step aerobics class together. Not only will the physical activity help your friend’s heart health, but it will improve her mood, too. Check out these tips for Heart Healthy Exercise.

Go Red

Just by showing her support, you are already Going Red for your friend. Here are a few more ways you can get involved to help her and other women in their battle with heart disease.

Start a Fundraiser with Go Red

Contact your local American Heart Association office to see how you can help or start a fundraiser. Launching your own fundraiser to support women with heart disease couldn’t be easier. You can create a campaign as an individual or as a group (maybe with members of your workplace, church, gym or book club). Just visit the Go Red For Women Fundraising Page to get started.

Join Go Red

Sign up with your friend on Go Red for Women to stay informed on the latest news and expert advice on heart disease in women.

Celebrate National Wear Red Day

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, a social initiative to help women change their health for the better. Since then, estimates indicate 21 percent fewer women are dying from heart disease.

You and your friend can be part of the movement by wearing red on Feb. 1, National Wear Red Day. Support your friend by planning a get together with other women and participating in the American Goes Red Challenge and upload photos of you and your community.

Learn more ways to Get Involved with Go Red For Women.