Life After Bypass Surgery: Knowing What Changes to Make to Your Lifestyle
According to the Heart Research Institute, mortality rates associated with heart disease are decreasing, but it still remains the biggest killer in the UK. The statistics, taken from 2010, state that around 224 people on average die from the condition each day, which equates to around 82,000 deaths each year.
As a result, having a heart bypass operation can feel like a second chance – an opportunity to make major life changes and improve your health. However, knowing just how to turn things around and reduce the risk of developing heart disease again in the future is sometimes more complicated than it initially seems.
If you’re about to have bypass surgery, or have already had it and are now recovering, here is some useful information to help you avoid heart problems in the future.
Immediately After Your Operation
Once you return home after the operation, your initial focus will be on recovering and moving on with your life. Most people make a complete recovery within around two to three months and are able to return to work.
However, simply returning to life as you lived it prior to the operation is inadvisable. After all, it was your previous lifestyle that brought on your heart disease, and it should be your top priority to ensure that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
Lifestyle Changes After Bypass Surgery
Your doctor is likely to have some suggestions as to how you can alter your lifestyle to enjoy a long, healthy life and it’s important to take these comments on board. Here are some other helpful ideas, taken from a case study, outlining the comments of a heart bypass patient, undertaken at Baylor University Medical Centre, USA.
- Stop smoking. According to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), over 100,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses each year. It accounts for one seventh of all cardiovascular related deaths, and carrying on with your cigarette habit increases your chances of getting heart disease again by a significant margin.
- Limit stress. Stress raises blood pressure and cholesterol, which both contribute to heart problems. Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to manage stress successfully, especially if you have a challenging role in your company. However, if you feel that your job causes you undue levels of stress, it may be time to review your career choice and seek alternative options, for the sake of your health.
- Improve your diet. It goes without saying that you need to follow a healthy diet, but many people are confused as to exactly what constitutes ‘healthy’ food. As a general rule, make sure you avoid processed foods, which are often high in trans-fats, saturated fats and salt. Limit your intake of foods high in sugar, and cut back on eating too much red meat and other fatty foods.
- Dr Robert Butler, the former director of the National Institute on Aging, says: “If exercise could be packaged into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” Exercise helps to strengthen the heart muscles, lower risk of blood clot, lower blood pressure and assist weight loss – all vital factors when it comes to avoiding heart disease.
- Cut back on alcohol. The British Heart Foundation states that “drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can have a harmful effect on your heart and general health.” Too much alcohol can cause your heart to beat irregularly, raise blood pressure and lead to weight gain, which can contribute to developing heart disease.
Maintaining a Positive AttitudeSome of the lifestyle changes that you’ll need to make to stay healthy may be challenging, such as quitting smoking, or reducing stress in your life. As a result, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and to always keep in mind why you’re making these changes.
For certain lifestyle alterations, such as stopping smoking, remember that there is likely to be a local support group in your area; alternatively, the NHS offers free support for those looking to quit. In short, there’s a wealth of help available to you, and if you’re unsure where to find the support, your GP will be able to help you get the assistance you require.