If you receive a diagnosis of coronary heart disease and you are smoker, you will be strongly advised to quit smoking. Stopping smoking at any age, no matter how long you have been smoking, will help prevent any further damage to your body, may reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, and will increase your life expectancy.
If you are a smoker, you may wish to read the British Heart Foundation’s Stop Smoking booklet for tips and advice. You may also find support from your GP surgery or local pharmacy.
Diet for coronary heart disease
Eating healthily can help prevent you developing heart disease. Providing the body with good nutrition reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis and helps the body function as effectively as it should.
If you receive a heart disease diagnosis, eating healthily can help reduce the risk of your condition worsening, and reduce the impact of your symptoms.
There is no strict ‘heart disease diet’ but you should aim to reduce levels of cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet. Visit Heart UK’s website for information on cholesterol and other aspects of healthy eating for heart disease.
Some people take vitamins and minerals as supplements for heart disease, but there is little evidence to suggest these have an effect. You should always check with your GP or cardiologist before embarking on a programme of heart disease supplements.
Exercise for coronary heart disease
Exercise is really important to prevent heart disease in the first place, but if you have already been diagnosed with it, you will probably be advised to increase your exercise levels in order to prevent further damage to your arteries and heart. Losing weight through healthy eating and exercise may also be advised, to avoid any additional strain on your heart. The NHS provides a weight loss guide with weekly planners to help you improve your diet and activity levels.
Most people need to build up to do 30 minutes of exercise each day that gets the heart pumping. If you have severe symptoms or have had a heart attack, you may need support and advice about how to start an exercise regime, and you are likely to be referred to a physiotherapist for this. You may also benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation programme, designed for people with heart disease or other heart conditions. This consists of a range of heart disease exercises to improve your fitness at a reasonable pace. Find out more about cardiac rehabilitation options.
The NHS provides more advice about how to get fit for free.
Heart disease and employment
Many people with heart disease are in employment. Some are unable to work due to their symptoms. Some people continue to work, but need to change jobs because their working environment has a negative effect on their condition or symptoms, for example, if you are exposed to carbon monoxide or chemicals. For more information about work and heart disease, visit the FitforWork website.
Stress can have a large impact on your heart health, and so if you find work stressful, it may be advisable to explore options for managing stress. British Heart Foundation provides information about wellbeing at work as well as a ‘coping with stress’ booklet.