Best Ways to Help a Loved One with Heart Disease
About 1 in 12 Canadian adults live with heart disease. That means that about 2.4 million people over the age of 20 are diagnosed and trying to manage their heart health (Canada.ca).
With so many individuals struggling with this common disease, it is not surprising that you probably know someone in your family or friend group who has heart disease. The question becomes, how can you help? Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada and is a health issue that needs to be taken seriously. Without the right precautions and preventative measures, things can go from bad to worse, and can even lead to a cardiac event such as a heart attack or cardiac arrest. So, what can YOU do to help those loved ones in your life live a heart-healthy and full life? Thankfully, there is LOTS you can do! Here are the best ways to assist and make an incredible difference in the lives of those around you!
Be There for Your Loved Ones
It may seem like an easy thing to do, but simply being an ear to listen can make a drastic difference for someone suffering from heart disease. Communication and support are the key things that can help someone while they wait for a heart transplant, while they work to increase their physical activity, or while they begin to take medication to help their heart. It can be a stressful and anxiety-filled experience depending on the severity, and being a support to that individual can make a world of difference. You can be there for them by:
- Listening to their experiences and journey
- Asking specific questions on how you can help
- Inquiring as to how they are feeling
- Accompanying them to doctor appointments
- Being aware of warning signs and symptoms that could mean something is wrong
Make Heart-Healthy Recipes
Whether your family member suffers from heart disease or a friend does, you have the opportunity to make an impact in their life by providing them with heart-healthy choices. There are so many processed, sugar-filled, and cholesterol-building foods available to us, that at times, eating healthy can seem like an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to be! You have the chance to make a positive difference on the health and wellbeing of your loved one by transforming your recipes into healthier options (read our heart-healthy ingredient replacement blog for some quick and simple changes!) as well as seeking out better snacks and meal recipes that will boost their blood-pumper!
Still not sure what to make? Every month First Edition shares a recipe that has been made healthy to improve heart health! Check out our blog page for past recipes and keep an eye out for new ones!
Boost Heart Health by Becoming Their Exercise Buddy
In a 2019 study by AARP, focusing on the impacts of having an exercise buddy, researchers found that “having a more fit buddy could increase your workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent!”
One of the most important things a heart disease patient can do is to stay active. The simple act of adding exercise to their daily routine works to improve the strength of their heart muscles, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and even reduce the symptoms of heart disease (such as pain, pressure, etc.). If you know a loved one who struggles to motivate themselves to get out and move, then offer your time and energy to do workouts with them! Not only will this give them more motivation and help them commit to exercising, but it will boost your own heart health and work as a preventative action for your own wellness!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to do exercises that are safe for their current condition – always ensure they speak to their doctor before trying a new or enhanced exercise regime.
Support Heart Disease and Heart Health Research
Although you may not be able to provide hands-on or medical intervention support to your loved one, you still have the chance to make a huge difference in the field of cardiology! There are plenty of incredible heart health organizations and charities who are supporting, both emotionally and financially, those suffering from heart disease. Donating or getting involved with these organizations is a great way to take immediate action to change the course of heart research and support those in need!
Not sure which organizations to support? Check out the following heartwarming charities who are making enormous changes in the lives of Canadians:
- Heart and Stroke Foundation
- Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada
- Cardiac Fitness Association
- Children’s Heart Network
- Cardiac Kids
- Heartlife Foundation
- Children’s Heart Society
- Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance
- Heart Beats Children’s Society
- Canadian Transplant Association
- University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation
Learn How to Help in Cardiac Emergencies
Because your loved one has heart disease, this also puts them at a slightly higher risk of experiencing a cardiac event. Heart attack and cardiac arrest are very serious emergencies that should be responded to immediately. The best way to help someone having a heart emergency is to know CPR and how to use an AED! These skills can be learned in a first aid course, which will teach you:
- The signs and symptoms to look out for
- When to call 911
- How to perform CPR compressions
- How to perform CPR breaths
- How to use a face shield
- How to use an AED
- How to apply AED pads
- What to do while waiting for first responders to arrive
- And other important first aid skills!
If you have not yet taken a first aid course and have a loved one who suffers from heart disease, it is strongly recommended that you learn these skills so you can assist should things take a turn for the worse. Simply knowing and applying your CPR and AED skills within the first few seconds/minutes of an emergency can DOUBLE the chances of their survival. Don’t want to do first aid on your own? Get the family or your friend group together and bond over some life-saving learning! First Edition offers Group First Aid Classes (for 8+ people) and will come to your home or location to teach you the skills that could save a life! Want to do it on your own? Sign up for the Online First Aid Course!
Another way that you can prepare and learn how to help during cardiac emergencies is through the use of an AED. Having an AED nearby will double the chances of survival! Which means that if someone in your household has heart disease, having an AED installed in the home can improve their odds of survival should things take a turn for the worse. Install a InHome AED so that they can be responded to IMMEDIATELY if they were to suffer a cardiac arrest!
Make a difference in your loved one’s life and support them through their journey of living with heart disease. Simply knowing that you are there for them will make a wonderful difference! Together, work towards heart health and wellness and look forward to the many healthy years ahead!
As you begin your new fitness and exercise regime, it is important to also understand how fitness affects your overall health. Particularly, your heart health! Want to know how they are connected and what you need to watch out for? Here is your guide to fitness for heart health!
Some are born with heart disease and some develop heart disease due to a variety of reasons. But, for those not genetically pre-disposed, heart disease prevention IS possible by making positive lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. Know what to expect from heart disease depending on your age!