Few other aspects of your health are as important as taking care of your heart. According to statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 600,000 people die from cardiovascular disease every year in the United States, which accounts for one in every four deaths. Fortunately, cardiovascular disease is a manageable condition, and with proper medical attention and physical therapy, you can mitigate your risks.
The first step in cardiac rehabilitation is an appointment with your doctor. Everyone's body and health situations are different, and only a professional with access to your medical history can tailor a physical therapy regimen that fits you and your health goals. If you are in a hospital recuperating from a heart attack, the medical staff there may recommend a therapeutic regimen for you during your treatment. Otherwise, there are numerous different outpatient facilities that your doctor can recommend, as well.
Exercise will likely be the major component in virtually any cardiac rehabilitation program you enter, and for good reason. Physical activity helps your heart and conditions your body, growing your muscle mass and improving blood flow to your extremities and vital organs. As a bonus, it's also a great way to improve your energy level and emotional health, too. While there are many different kinds of activities you can perform in these settings, common exercises for cardiovascular health include running on a treadmill, cycling on an exercise bike, and jumping rope.
Speaking of emotional health, depending on your circumstances, your doctor may advise you to seek out a counselor. If you have suffered a heart attack, you may very well be experiencing some anxiety or depression in the aftermath that can have a negative impact on your long-term health. Speaking to a counselor is a good way to alleviate these feelings. Additionally, if you are a smoker, a counselor can help you quit.
You may also meet with a nutritionist to help you plan meals that are optimized for cardiovascular health. Eating the right diet can go a long way towards lowering your odds of a future heart attack. A healthy diet is one that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. You should also be consuming less fatty and cholesterol-laden foods, as well as controlling your portion sizes to reach an optimal caloric intake.
Finally, depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor or cardiologist may prescribe certain heart medications for you. Learning to manage these medications and their side effects is a vital part of the rehabilitation process, and something you and the medical staff in charge of your treatment should work on together. After all, both you and the doctors all want the same thing: a long and healthy life for you.