Coping with Heart Disease

Relationships and sex

Coming to terms with a long-term condition such as heart disease can put a strain on you, your family and your friends. It can be difficult to talk to people about your condition, even if they're close to you.

Be open about how you feel and let your family and friends know what they can do to help. But don't feel shy about telling them you need some time to yourself.

Source: NHS Choices UK1

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Back to: « Heart Disease

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Your sex life

If you have coronary heart disease (CHD) or you've recently had heart surgery, you may be concerned about having sex. Usually, you can resume sexual activity as soon as you feel well enough.

Communicate with your partner and stay open-minded. Explore what you both like sexually. Simply touching, being touched and being close to someone helps a person feel loved and special.

Source: NHS Choices UK2

Social Issues with Heart Disease

This year's Red Dress CollectionŽ was hosted by The American Heart Association's Go Red for WomenŽ and supported by the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and Macy's. This widely publicized event took place on February 11, 2016, and kicked off New York Fashion Week. More than 20 celebrities walked the runway in red gowns in an effort to raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. The NIH/NHLBI supported this event by providing evidence-based scientific messaging to special guests, more than 100 media outlets, and the public.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)3

Work Issues with Heart Disease

Returning to work

After recovering from heart surgery, you should be able to return to work, but it may be necessary to change the type of work you do. For example, you may not be able to do a job that involves heavy physical exertion.

Your specialist will be able to advise you about when you can return to work and what type of activities you should avoid.

Source: NHS Choices UK4

Rehabilitation for Heart Disease

Cardiac Rehabilitation Facts

  • All of these persons with heart disease could benefit from cardiac rehabilitation (rehab).[1] The purpose of cardiac rehab is to modify a person's coronary risk factors and to reduce mortality, morbidity, and functional disability due to cardiovascular illness.[2-4]
  • In 2001, 19 states and the District of Columbia included questions in the state-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey regarding receipt of cardiac rehab services following a heart attack.[5] The findings indicated that less than a third of heart disease patients had participated in cardiac rehab even though most might have benefited from these services.
  • Other studies suggest that women who have suffered a recent heart attack or had bypass surgery are less likely to be referred to or participate in a cardiac rehab program.[6,7] Patients aged 70 years or older are much less likely to participate in cardiac rehab in comparison to younger patients.
  • Recent research demonstrates that physician referral is the most powerful predictor for cardiac rehab enrollment.7,8 Clinical practice guidelines for cardiac rehab were released and widely disseminated to health professionals in 1995 by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.2
  • Comprehensive cardiac rehab has been shown to reduce re-hospitalization rates, reduce recurrent sudden cardiac death, lessen the need for cardiac medications, and increase the rate of persons returning to work.
  • Including cardiac rehab in intervention plans for patients with heart disease remains a key strategy for reducing further disability and death.

Source: CDC DHDSP5

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State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Programs Take Action

Prevention through medical and public health education is vital for improved physician referrals and patient enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation. Examples of activities to implement in health care settings and the community include the following:

  • Promoting health care environments that improve quality of care by increasing adherence to guidelines for heart attack survivors, persons with stable angina, and persons with coronary artery disease.
  • Potential Partners: primary care associations, federally-qualified health centers, managed care organizations, Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, American Heart Association (AHA), rehabilitation, medical associations, nursing associations, and healthcare provider associations.
  • Promoting policies for diagnostic evaluation to refer eligible patients to cardiac rehabilitation and appropriate follow-up.
  • Potential Partners: hospitals, managed care organizations, federally-qualified health centers, medical associations, nursing associations, healthcare provider associations, and AHA affiliate.
  • Strengthening secondary prevention through increased awareness and education about the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation that promote heart healthy lifestyles.
  • Potential Partners: AHA affiliate, faith- and community-based organizations, local minority nursing association, and local health departments.
  • Advocating for health care coverage that includes cardiac rehabilitation services for persons that have coronary artery disease or have had a previous heart attack.
  • Potential Partners: AHA affiliate, business and human resource management, employee associations, unions, third-party payers, health care providers, local policymakers.
  • Advocating for equality in access to rehabilitation services for all persons, including women and members of diverse populations.
  • Potential Partners: primary care associations, federally-qualified health centers, managed care organizations, Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, American Heart Association (AHA), rehabilitation and medical associations.

Source: CDC DHDSP6

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Goals of Cardiac Rehabilitation[6]

  • Improve functional capacity and quality of life.
  • Reduce risk of sudden death and subsequent heart attack.
  • Ease angina pectoris symptoms.
  • Prevent progression of underlying disease.

Source: CDC DHDSP7

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  1. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ coronary-heart-disease/ recovery/ 
  2. ibid.
  3. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): magazine/ issues/ spring16/ articles/ spring16pg2.html
  4. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ coronary-heart-disease/ recovery/ 
  5. Source: CDC DHDSP: dhdsp/ data_statistics/ fact_sheets/ fs_state_cardiacrehab.htm
  6. ibid.
  7. ibid.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.