plant-based diet, high in foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and fiber-rich grains.
Cardiac rehabilitation programs are where people can find help. Those programs can be prescribed in the aftermath of a heart attack so that patients can have supervised exercise and, often, other services — such as nutrition advice and help with quitting smoking and stress reduction.
“I’m an enormous fan of cardiac rehab,” Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association shares.
After a heart attack, people can be fearful about exercise, depressed, or feel like it’s “too late” to do anything about their cardiovascular health.
“Cardiac rehab gets patients into a monitored setting where they can learn to trust their bodies again,” Lloyd-Jones says.
There are also resources outside of cardiac rehab. Van Trier advises patients to talk to their doctor about any help they need with quitting smoking or referral to a dietitian for help with nutrition and weight loss. Doctors may also be able to recommend community exercise programs, she says.
As for medications, Lloyd-Jones says patients should always bring any concerns to their doctor: If you’re worried about a potential side effect, talk to your doctor rather than stopping a medication.
Family support is always key, all three experts note.
It’s easier for patients to eat better, exercise or refrain from smoking when someone else is in it with them, according to Freeman. And if the whole family is making healthy choices, everyone’s heart health will benefit.