Living with angina
...heart attack symptoms in men are higher than women...
The risk of heart attack symptoms in men increases significantly after the age of 45. Heart attack symptoms for women are more likely to occur after menopause (normally after the age of 50). Younger men and women are not immune to heart attack symptoms. The following notes are for both men and women.
- Pace yourself, listen to your body; if you cannot maintain a conversation when exerting yourself, you are working too hard.
- Remember, graded exercise is good for the heart.
- Try to avoid very hot or very cold temperatures.
- Weight problems put extra strain on the heart; it is like carrying a sack of potatoes on your back.
- It is difficult to reduce your weight unless you modify your diet, eat sensibly and take regular exercise.
- What you eat and drink is very important in managing your heart disease. It should be low in cholesterol, fats and salt. The diet should be well-balanced and include many different types of food.
- Control your alcohol intake.
- Give up smoking.
- Ensure you see your GP and arrange vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia.
The secret is accepting change. Although making lifestyle changes is difficult, your future relies on these changes and they will all help to improve your quality of life.
- Can you still work? If so, is it feasible to work full-time or part-time?
- Can you continue with your hobbies? Most patients can, but you may need to pace yourself a little more. If you are excessively tired, slow down.
- As regards your sex life, do not be frightened; you can have normal sexual intercourse when relaxed. However, do try to avoid a heavy meal before sex.
- Communicate with your GP, cardiologist and rehabilitation nurse before starting any regime of physical exercise.
Set aside time each day to relax; this also gives time for the heart to relax. This is important to men more so as heart attack symptoms in men are higher than women.
Stress affects the body and although it does not directly cause heart problems, indirectly it may be a trigger by inducing:
These can make your condition worse. However, trying to avoid such triggers and setting aside time each day for relaxation will help to control your angina.
Regular exercise is good for the heart. It helps the heart pump more efficiently and will improve your condition. A diagnosis of angina does not make you an invalid, so do not allow friends and family to treat you as such. However, remember that occasionally you may be overexerting yourself and so listen to others when they recognise this. When exercising:
- Avoid lifting weights and competitive sports or contact sports.
- Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures because the body has to work harder to keep the temperature normal.
- Avoid sun beds, saunas and Jacuzzis.
- If you develop chest pains, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, REST! Review your activities and lower the workload.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes that help a good blood flow.
- Consider a cardiac rehabilitation programme if you haven’t taken regular exercise for a while.
Cardiac rehabilitation programmes
A cardiac rehabilitation programme can help restore your confidence.
Exercise is started at a very gentle pace and tailored to the individual patient’s needs, in a supervised setting. You will find over a period of time your exercise tolerance will increase. These programmes often provide education classes and encourage other family members or close friends to attend.
Stop Smoking !
Heart attack symptoms in men increases significantly after 45
This will reduce your blood pressure, heart rate and the furring up of the arteries. If you quit smoking, your condition will improve.
Ask the practice nurse at your GP’s surgery for advice on smoking cessation programmes.
Protection Against FLU and Pneumonia
These conditions are dangerous for people who have heart disease.
The body is deprived of oxygen and so the heart has to work extra hard and becomes tired. The following guidelines will help to protect you:
- Ask your GP to arrange for you to have a yearly influenza vaccine and a one-time pneumonia vaccine.
- Try to avoid people suffering from colds or the flu.
- Avoid crowds in the winter months when coughs and colds are around.
Changes in Symptoms
It is important that you work closely with your doctors and nurses to help them manage your condition. All healthcare professionals depend on you to follow advice concerning diet, tablets, exercise and general lifestyle. You must report back on progress made and any worries you have, icluding symptoms and any changes in your condition. It is important to:
- Talk openly with them.
- Make a list of questions to ask.
- Remember that your family and friends are more than welcome to be with you at consultations.
Angina cannot be treated with tablets or surgery alone. You and your family, GP, cardiologist and other healthcare professionals need to work closely together.
Report to your GP immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Angina pains more frequently or of more prolonged duration
- Waking up during the night short of breath
It is very important that if you have prolonged or severe chest pain you call for an ambulance. If having taken GTN (two puffs at 5-minute intervals up to 15 minutes) your symptoms have not resolved, you should call an ambulance immediately.
Remember, there are many Cardiac Support Groups whose members are patients and their friends and families have experienced the problems that you are encountering. They will be a source of advice and support. But above all, by modifying your lifestyle and being positive you can learn to live with your condition and have a better quality of life.