Your Unique Experience
More than five million Americans are currently living with some form of heart disease, with about 500,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. It is important to remember though that heart disease is the umbrella term for more than a dozen different conditions that affect the heart.
Before you can truly start to manage your disease you need to understand what you are dealing with. Fifty-seven year old Gerry Schwab of New Jersey had a massive coronary when he was just 34 and says, “There is a great deal of fear and uncertainty in the beginning. You can get bogged down in your own worries, questions and concerns.” One of the most useful things you can do for your health at this point is to do as Gerry did, and ask questions.
Establish where you are on the spectrum. What type of heart disease do you have? What are the specific areas you need to focus on the most? Your cholesterol? Your diabetes? Become your own heart expert. Realize that aside from the advice of your doctor and others you trust, you have a responsibility to do your own homework about your heart disease.
Here's a step you can take today, if you haven't already: Ask your doctor to fully explain your disease in a language you can understand. If you are still confused by the complexity of it, ask him/her to write things down for you. This could include key words and/or terminology specific to your disease. Use that paper as your “cheat sheet” and go to Americanheart.org to learn more about all things heart related. The site offers thorough explanations of the various conditions and an encyclopedia where you can search glossary terms. Don't you feel smarter already?