If you’ve been diagnosed with angina, it’s normal to feel a little anxious in the beginning, but there’s no reason to panic.
Angina is chest pain that occurs when a portion of your heart is not receiving enough blood. This lack of blood flow to the heart is usually caused by coronary artery disease "” a build up of plaque in the arteries, which reduces the amount of blood flowing to your heart.
Even though angina can occur many times without leading to a heart attack, you should be aware of symptoms, and act accordingly. If your angina pain starts to feel different than previous angina pain, you should seek medical attention.
Here are 10 things to do after a diagnosis of angina:
1. Stay calm
Stress can lead to angina attacks, so it’s very important that you try to stay calm at all times.
Learn about relaxation techniques to be used if you begin to feel stressed, practice deep breathing exercises, and if it helps, you can even schedule a massage or reflexology once a week, to help you stay relaxed.
2. Stop smoking
One of the most important things you can do for your heart is to give up smoking. Smoking narrows your arteries, and increases your heart rate. It also increases your blood pressure, and reduces blood flow throughout your body.
All of this means your heart needs to work harder, which can lead to a heart attack.
3. Eat healthy
It is important that you eat a healthy diet filled with fresh, colorful, whole foods.
If you find healthy eating difficult to get started, try to focus on eating foods as close to their natural form as possible. That means, choosing a lean chicken breast, rather than frozen chicken nuggets; or some home made vegetable soup, rather than the canned variety.
4. Exercise regularly
Engaging in a daily exercise routine can help you maintain a healthy heart and decrease your episodes of angina. Some good choices include pilates, cycling, swimming, and body weight training.
Always remember that if exercise is new to you, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor first to discuss what level of exercise is appropriate.
5. Never skip medications
Remembering to take medications as prescribed by your doctor can be difficult, however it really is critical that you stick with the schedule they have given you, and also that you don’t stop taking the medication, even if you feel better.
To help you remember, try using a calendar to make a timing schedule, or if you always take your medication in the morning for example, place them next to the coffee pot, so that in the morning you will be reminded to take them once again.
6. Maintain healthy bloods
If you have underlying blood pressure problems or diabetes, it’s very important that you keep these levels within a normal range.
Having consistently high blood pressure readings, or high blood sugar levels will put extra strain on your heart. Your should also try to keep your cholesterol levels in check, as this will help to reduce the amount of plaque build up in your arteries.
7. Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for good overall health. When you are overweight your whole body must work extremely hard. This means more stress on your heart and your lungs.
So, if you are overweight, do what you can to lose those excess pounds "” make an appointment with a registered dietitian if you need help to get started.
8. Get enough sleep
Sleep is the time when your body rejuvenates itself, this is why it’s so important to get around eight hours of good quality sleep each night.
If you have trouble sleeping try relaxation techniques, soft music and blackout curtains as your starting point.
9. Avoid alcohol
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure levels, and cause disturbances in your normal heart rhythm. Studies have also shown that excessive alcohol consumption can raise your triglyceride levels.
So, protect your heart health by limiting your alcohol consumption to within the recommended guidelines "” this means an average of one to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women.
10. Visit your doctor regularly
When you have angina it is important that your health is monitored closely.
Try to avoid skipping your check up appointments, even if you are feeling well, as your doctor may be able to detect a problem, which you are not aware of.
These follow up appointments could save your life
If you have angina, you can continue to live a normal life, you simply need to take good care of yourself.
Remember, when you have angina pain, stop what you are doing and lie down. Use the medication prescribed by your doctor. If the pain goes away, resume activities slowly. If your chest pain lasts longer than five or ten minutes, or does not go away after using the pills or spray, seek immediate medical attention.
Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, and author of Dietriffic.com. Visit her blog for more healthy eating tips.