If you’ve recently been diagnosed with heart disease, you are likely quite concerned. This article contains tips on treating and reversing heart disease.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with heart disease, or are predisposed to the disease, you may be concerned about stopping the issue in its track before it grows into a more significant problem. However, many people are skeptical of the fact that you can treat or reverse heart disease. Below you’ll find everything you wish to know about managing and reversing heart disease.

It’s Possible to Reverse Heart Disease

pushing your chest

First and foremost, it’s critical to establish that it is entirely possible to reverse heart disease. While there’s a good chance that you cannot do all of the damage that the condition has done, there’s an excellent opportunity for you to reverse most of it. Doing so will require you to make significant changes to your lifestyle, cutting down on risk factors such as:

  • What You Eat
  • Your Weight
  • How Often You Exercise
  • How Well You Manage Stress

One of the studies that support this belief comes from the founder and president of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, Dr. Dean Ornish. Ornish is the author of six health books, including, “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease.”  In this book, Ornish details the fact that he conducted a study in which he examined patients who needed a heart transplant.

Some of the people included in this study suffered from the worst possible kind of heart disease. While waiting for a heart transplant, they begin a regiment that Ornish designed to help them reverse heart disease. Many of the people who participated in the study demonstrated a least some sign that their heart disease had improved. Some improved to the point they took themselves off the transplant list.

Ornish elaborated by saying that the frequency of chest pains exhibited by these people dropped by nearly 90 percent during the time of the study. Ornish also noted that most patients who had severely blocked arteries were able to reverse course and clear the way for improved blood flow. Although most saw results within a year, the results of the treatment program continued for more than five years.

How to Reverse Heart Disease

holding your heart

If you are looking to reverse heart disease, it’s critical that you dedicate yourself to numerous lifestyle changes. You must decide that you are willing to make widespread changes and improve multiple facets of your life. There’s a substantial difference between making healthier lifestyle choices and choosing to dedicate yourself entirely to treating or reversing heart disease. Consider these tips to get started.

Walk More

walking

One of the quickest changes that you can implement is walking more. Researchers have found that walking can cut the risk of a cardiovascular event by nearly a third. Ornish recommends that you walk for at least 30 minutes per day if you are looking to reverse the effects of heart disease. You do not need to jog or sprint when doing so.

That’s because studies show that walking at a rate of 2 miles per hour is enough to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you do this daily, this should add up to roughly five or six miles per week, which scientists say is more than enough to improve your cardiovascular health and curtail the risk of heart disease.

However, as you begin walking more and make improvements to your cardiovascular health, you may want to consider walking more. That’s because one study, which analyzed more than 420,000 middle-aged adults in the U.K., found that those with a brisk walking were half as likely to die from heart disease than those with a slow walking pace.

So, when first beginning, be sure to take it slow and walk at a pace that is appropriate for your fitness level. The fact that you are getting off the couch or out of your care to move for 30 minutes is enough to increase blood flow and cut your risk of heart disease. As you grow more comfortable walking daily, you can begin increasing the pace at which you walk.

If you do not have 30 minutes to spare each day, Ornish says that you can walk for an hour three times per week. Regardless, it’s critical that you do one of the two. Doing so can help ensure that you meet the guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week as set forth by the American Heart Association and their recommendations for adult physical activity.

Change Your Diet

eat vegetables for your heart

In addition to working out, those who are looking to treat heart disease will most likely need to make drastic changes to their diet. This is especially true if you consume a typically American diet, which tends to be high in grains, processed foods, and fatty foods. Ornish says that making small changes can cut your risk of heart disease, but you’ll need to make drastic changes to reverse the risk.

Ornish believes that if you are looking to reverse heart disease entirely, you will need to switch to a diet that is entirely vegetarian. This means avoiding things that are commonplace in the standard American diet, including processed carbs, refined sugar, and fats. To help protect your heart health, you’ll need to eat only those foods that are entirely natural.

You should consider implementing these changes over time. If you have eaten a particular diet for decades, it will be hard for your body to acclimate to new changes. Not many people can quit a diet cold-turkey for a newer, healthier one. Often, these people only last for a few months on their new diet before succumbing to their old ways.

Instead, try to make one change every few months. For example, try to start by cutting out processed carbohydrates such as bread and pastas, opting for natural carbs like sweet potatoes instead. Once you have grown accustomed to this, then make efforts to remove sugar from your diet. If you make these changes over time, they will not seem nearly as drastic as trying to do them all at once.

Practice Yoga

Practice Yoga

Many people believe that yoga is beneficial when it comes to getting a deep stretch, but recent studies have shown that it could be far more useful. That’s because researchers now believe that practicing yoga is an excellent way to help treat or reverse heart disease. One study from the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found that yoga could treat heart disease as effectively as brisk walking.

Associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Gloria Yeh, describes yoga as unique and beneficial because it “incorporates physical activity, breathing, and meditation.” Yoga could also be worthwhile because people from different backgrounds to tailor it to fit them perfectly. Yoga is not as strenuous as other exercises, which means it’s easy to modify to help meet your health capabilities.

If you are interested in lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to help treat heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends that you partake in an average of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as yoga, three to four times per week. Incorporating yoga into your routine could prove to be an excellent way to make working out more fun.

Quit Smoking

hand holding a cigarette

If you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke regularly, you could be at significant risk for heart disease. Smoking cigarettes causes about 20 percent of the deaths in the United States each year. A majority of these deaths come as the result of heart disease. Studies have shown that cigarettes increase the risk of atherosclerosis, which then leads to coronary heart disease.

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease exponentially, especially when combined with other risk factors that cigarettes tend to cause. This includes unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, obesity, and high blood pressure. Doctors say that if you smoke but already have heart disease, quitting can reduce your risk of sudden cardiac death and death from other chronic diseases.

Additionally, just because you don’t smoke does not mean you are not at risk for the negative impact of doing so. Secondhand smoke can contribute to heart disease just as much as firsthand smoke can. If a friend or family member smokes, ask them to refrain from doing so in the car or the home. This could considerably cut down the risk of heart disease in an individual who is otherwise healthy.

Visit Your Doctor

Man visiting a Doctor

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how significant their heart disease is. For that reason, it’s critical that you visit your doctor to gain an understanding of your risks for heart disease. Your doctor can run various tests to determine how severe your heart disease is and what you need to do to reverse its course.

If necessary, your doctor will prescribe medication that can also help treat heart disease. Taking medicine, along with making significant lifestyle changes, could have you well on your path to managing or correcting your heart disease. If your doctor does prescribe medication, it’s critical that you take it as prescribed to obtain the maximum benefits.

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