Cardiac Risk Assessment
Signup For Avera Newsletters
Calendar of Events
Visit Avera
Find a Physician
Avera Health Source
Avera Health Plans
Avera Jobs
Avera Heart Health Mission

Thank you for subscribing to Heart Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with useful information about cardiac care and prevention. We believe a healthy lifestyle starts with a strong heart. To learn more about our services and community events, or to find a physician, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff

Inline

Exercise is important for heart patients to heal and stay healthy. While your cardiologist will tell you what is right for you, there are general guidelines most heart patients can follow to work out while keeping their heart conditions in check.  
 
Heart patients who have had surgery can begin to exercise one to three weeks after surgery, depending on their cardiologists' recommendations. Low-impact exercises, such as walking or biking, are ideal for heart patients, says Amy Ramos, an exercise specialist at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. Be sure to stretch for at least five minutes before and after exercise. Ramos suggests patients take it slow as they begin new fitness routines.
 
"If you've never exercised much, we don't want you going from no exercise to an hour of exercise," she says. "Take a few five-minute walks a day and continue to build on that over time."
 
Daily tasks such as gardening, yard work, housework and grocery shopping are good activities to raise your heart rate safely, although they do not replace a regular exercise routine. If you feel any chest pain, extreme shortness of breath, lightheadedness or a racing pulse, take a break. If you continue to feel these symptoms, talk to your cardiologist.
 
Before beginning exercise, consult your cardiologist, who can recommend types of exercise, guidelines for safe exercise and target heart rates for you.

Back to top^


Inline

If you are a diabetic heart patient, Avera can give you dietary guidelines and help you develop a meal plan that works for you.
 
Diabetics typically have to keep track of their blood sugar levels to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and they may have to modify their diets. It's no different for diabetic heart patients, says Mary Beth Russell, clinical dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., who is certified in diabetes education. Few foods are off-limits to diabetics, but they must carefully monitor portion control and frequency of types of foods.
 
"The most important thing they can do for their hearts is to control their blood sugars," Russell says. "If they've had education about controlling their blood sugars, they should be following that information."
 
For patients who don't already follow a heart-healthy diet plan, the Avera Heart Hospital recommends following the guidelines of a Mediterranean diet plan, which emphasizes eating fish, chicken, nuts, whole grains and heart-healthy fats such as olive oil. When eating red meat, choose lean cuts, and keep the portion to the size of a deck of cards. The staff recommends this diet to patients, diabetic or otherwise.
 
Because of the way diabetics' bodies metabolize carbohydrates, their bodies store carbohydrates as fat quicker and easier, which can cause other health problems. The best thing diabetics can do after major cardiac procedures is to monitor their blood sugar more often to keep their levels under control. "Diabetics heal faster when their blood sugars are good," Russell says.
 
Avera Heart Hospital provides nutrition classes to all patients who have a cardiac procedure, such as stent placement or valve replacement. Outpatient nutrition classes also are offered at many Avera locations.

Back to top^


In Great Health online archive.