Care Tips for Patients with Heart Disease
July 05 2018
Decreasing Uncertainty while Increasing Overall Health
Our hearts pump blood to our entire body. The heart is a remarkable organ that is essential to life. So when a patient is diagnosed with heart disease, life can become scary and uncertain. They may have many questions about what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot eat and so on. As a caregiver of someone with heart disease, you have the chance to help your patient learn what they can do to live healthier and put their mind a little more at ease.
- Patients should stay away from fatty foods such as french fries, chips and cheese. Each patient’s diet should be customized to their particular heart condition, but healthy foods such as fresh fruits and veggies or lean meats like chicken and fish are generally recommended.
- Encourage your patient to ready food labels carefully and to pay attention to the amount of sodium.
- The patient should avoid preservatives, highly processed foods, high-glucose foods, fried foods and white carbohydrates (like flour and white rice).
- The patient can indulge every once in a while, but should take care to indulge wisely. Portions should be small.
- Physical activity of the patient will depend on age, physical ability, balance and their particular heart condition.
- Encourage your patient to do their exercises that have been recommended by the doctor or physical therapist.
- If the patient smokes, they must stop immediately.
- If possible, let your patient be in control of monitoring their medication. Offer encouragement and assistance to help them stay on track.
- Make sure your patient understands why a medication is being taken. Take time to explain the benefits, as well as any potential side effects.
- Make sure the patient has an up-to-date list of all their medications, in case they see a specialist, such as a rheumatologist. It is important to make sure there are no interactions with medications.
Symptoms and Warning Signs
- If symptoms re-emerge, a patient without 24/7 care may be reluctant to call the doctor or nurse. Be sure to encourage the patient to make that call and bring those concerns to attention.
- Remind them to call 911 if it is an emergency and to not be embarrassed to go to the ER.
- Educate the patient on what the warning signs are, such as new chest discomfort, dizziness, leg swelling, fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion, pain between the shoulder blades or AFib. For those with heart failure, a sign that it has come back is if they are waking up short of breath during the night.
- As always, make sure that you are also communicating with the patient’s loved ones, especially the family caregiver. Make sure that everyone on your team is also up to speed on any changes in the patient’s health and medications.
- Communicate clearly with the patient. They may feel embarrassed if they don’t understand something, so make sure you take the time to explain and encourage the patient to ask questions.
- Encourage the patient to still try and do the things they used to love and enjoy. Having happiness in one’s life is an essential part of maintaining overall health.
- Remind family caregivers to take care of themselves as well and avoid burnout. Encourage them to ask for assistance when needed.