Heart disease is one of the most common health-related issues in America. As one of the most serious problems that we face today, caring for heart patients can be just as daunting on the caregivers as it is on the patients. If someone you know has a weak heart and needs special attention, you’ll have to follow certain steps to ensure they receive adequate care at home. In this article we’ll talk about how you can care for a heart patient successfully to help them manage their condition.
Introduce a good diet
A healthy diet can significantly reduce the chance of developing heart problems, and if you already have an issue, it can help keep it under check. If you want to help the patient you care for, then try to introduce a new, healthier diet for the entire household. If the patient is obese make sure to reduce their portion size because excess weight can exacerbate the problem, and try to cook meals with more vegetables and less red meat. Fatty fish like salmon is also a good choice for heart patients because it contains omega-3s that can reduce triglycerides in the blood. Other good sources of healthy fat are avocados, nuts, and vegetable oil. Limit white bread and other carbohydrate-heavy food, especially snacks – they tend to have a high trans-fat and sodium content, which is harmful for heart health. Basically, you want to avoid products with unhealthy fat like butter, lard, bacon, French fries, and similar.
Know which symptoms to watch out for
You need to be immediately aware if the patient’s condition becomes worse, so it’s important to pay attention to symptoms of heart disease. Seemingly unrelated things like leg cramps could indicate a problem, and more serious issues like strong chest pain, dizziness, and loss of consciousness usually mean you need to call the ER immediately.
Make sure the patients have access to proper care
Regardless of how advanced the patient’s condition is, you might want to have a doctor or a nurse on call in case of an emergency. Make sure to always have access to health professionals who are trained in basic life support and have their Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification, and write store the emergency numbers in your phone. You want them to always be within reach because seconds can be precious.
If the patient’s condition starts getting worse, consider moving them to a hospital or a private clinic where they would be able to get 24-hour supervision.
Monitor the patient’s medication
Monitoring medication use can be tricky, especially if the patient takes more than one type of pill during the day. Fortunately, you can help with this easily. Either buy a pill organizer that will let you split meds in small containers which are all marked with days of the week and times of the day, or use a phone app to send you reminders. You can find a few good apps on this list.
Make exercise a part of the daily routine
Exercise can vastly improve heart health, but you have to make sure to clear everything with the patient’s doctor before you sign them up for any kind of activity. In general, aim for low-impact, safe activities like long walks or swimming, and help them do it regularly for maximum impact.
A physiotherapist can help you determine what type of exercises are the best for the patient.
Avoid caregiver burnout
Take care of yourself. Caring for someone else, even if they are a close family member, can lead to caregiver burnout. If you become too stressed, exhausted, and unhappy you won’t be able to provide effective care, and your own health could start degrading. That’s why it’s so important to get help from outside sources and always find some time for yourself.
To summarize: caring for heart patients means helping them introduce healthy lifestyle changes, making sure they take their medication, and being ready in case of an emergency. Remember that your own needs also matter, and ask for help to prevent caregiver burnout.