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How to look after your heart after a cardiac event

Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice on the amount and intensity of exercise you plan on doing.

Free Covid vaccines for all Indian adults as Modi hails yoga 'shield'
Indians marked International Yoga Day at the Red Fort in New Delhi as the country said it would open up free vaccinations to all adults - Copyright AFP Money SHARMA
Indians marked International Yoga Day at the Red Fort in New Delhi as the country said it would open up free vaccinations to all adults - Copyright AFP Money SHARMA

In the U.S., American Heart Month has begun (running through February 2022). This is positioned as a period of time to learn how people can boost their heart health and start exercising safely. This advice is also relevant for those who have had heart issues.

Sports Cardiologist Dr. Ankit Shah from MedStar Health has provided some advice for Digital Journal readers.

Can I Keep Exercising After Experiencing A Cardiac Event?

According to Shah: “It’s possible!” The medic goes on to state: “Staying active is key to a healthy heart. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice on the amount and intensity of exercise you plan on doing. You may need to start slow, and set small goals. Taking short walks is a great way for keeping your heart healthy. You can start by taking short 5-10 minute walks a day, and build up your routine over several weeks. Even if you’ve had a cardiac event or suffer from a cardiovascular disease, it’s still possible to exercise safely, with the proper guidance from your doctor. Dr. Shah has helped numerous patients get back to exercise after having a cardiac event.”

When Should I Visit A Sports Cardiologist?

Shah explains: “If you are unsure of the intensity of exercise you should be doing based on the severity of your cardiovascular disease or following a cardiac event, a Sports Cardiologist will give you advice on how to stay active and safe. They will review your medical history, athletic history, and athletic goals in order to set a proper heart-healthy exercise plan.”

To assist those affected, Shah describes the exercise red flags to report to your doctor:

  • Chest pain
  • Chest pressure
  • Pain in the jaw or down the left arm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Can’t keep up with running mates

“Athlete’s Heart” Or Heart Disease?

Shah recommends: “Whether you’re a professional athlete or just getting started on your fitness journey, it’s important to understand how changes in the heart may occur as a result of fitness training. Athletes who routinely engage in vigorous exercise (usually at least 5 hours a week) may develop adaptive enlargement of the heart – also known as “Athlete’s Heart”. In most cases it is not dangerous, but it’s important to differentiate it from other serious conditions that can also cause an enlarged heart.”

How Can I Spot Risk Factors?

Understanding signs and symptoms is important. For this Shah notes: “It’s important to visit your doctor regularly and make sure that you have been evaluated for any risk factors. Unhealthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels may lead to heart-related conditions.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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