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Managing Heart Disease

 

by the Go Red For Women Editors

Jamie Napolitano is living proof that heart disease doesn’t have to end someone’s life, and that women with heart disease can still achieve their dreams. “We’re worth it, and we can’t do the things that we’re passionate about unless we stay healthy and strong,” says Jamie. She is among the hundreds of thousands who have learned to make healthy changes in their lives to manage heart disease.

But let’s face it, there’s a lot to deal with. Doctor appointments on a regular basis. Getting hooked up to a bunch of machines. Hearing the same “How are you doing?” questions over and over. All of these things can take their toll, making the management side of your heart disease diagnosis unsettling.

Tackling your emotions

Getting emotional support from others is an important step on your road to recovery. So cut yourself some slack and learn to be your own biggest cheerleader. Nobody knows the importance of that better than survivor Migdalia Rivera, who, since her diagnosis, sports a new attitude that she calls “Latinalicious.” Migdalia learned that she has to put herself first, because, as she explains, “I love my children and my family, so I have to make sure that my health becomes a priority.”

As a woman, you know that the role of caregiver to others often trumps your own needs. But Migdalia, and other women who Go Red, know that when it comes to managing heart disease, all that needs to change.

Toss pride out the window

In theory, that sounds easy. But the reality is: it can be hard to ask for help. If you feel like this is too much to deal with on your own, put your pride aside and seek assistance. Get counseling, turn to support groups – whatever feels right for you. Think beyond opening up to those who love and care about you. Having a support system outside of your immediate surroundings will make dealing with heart disease less stressful. And remember:  You’re not alone.

Go Red with like-minded women

No matter how hard it gets, and no matter how many times you feel like giving up, remember you can beat this. And you will. Because with the right information, education and care, heart disease in women can be treated, prevented and even ended. That’s because women who Go Red are more likely to make healthy choices, like these:

  • Nearly 90 percent have made at least one healthy change in their daily lives
  • More than 1/3 have lost weight
  • More than 50 percent have increased their exercise
  • 6 out of 10 have made healthy changes to their diets
  • More than 40 percent have checked their cholesterol levels
  • 1/3 have talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans

Take command of your recovery

  • Learn to love labels. Focus on filling your life with healthy eating choices.
  • Find ways to stay active. You don’t have to become a gym rat, but you do have to get moving.
  • Go easy on yourself. Try to manage your own expectations and don’t expect miracles overnight. 
  • De-stress. Whatever puts you in a calm and happy zone, find the time to do it.
  • Don’t think you have to change your plans. Ultimately, being a survivor means living. So, try to resume a normal lifestyle.