How Should I Approach Modifying My Lifestyle After Having A Heart Attack?

Question: How should I approach modifying my lifestyle after having a heart attack?

Answer: I get questions all the time from patients who want to modify their lifestyle but are really not sure quite where to go.

Let me give you some examples. Oftentimes patients may approach me and say, "Doc, you drive me crazy. Is it 30, 60, or 90 minutes? How much exercise do I really need?"

Well, my answer is always, "What are you doing right now?" And if the patient responds to me, "I'm doing nothing right now. I'm really not involved in any exercise program." I typically say, "Can you give me 10 minutes, three times a week?"

To which the patients generally responds, "Yeah, I can do 10 minutes, three times a week but it's not nearly what you guys are saying needs to be done." I'll raise my voice once more and say, "Can you give me 10 minutes, three times a week over the next month?"And the patient will leave the office.

Can't tell you the number of times somebody has come back into the office a week later and says, "Doc, I didn't listen to you."

And I'll say, "What do you mean. You didn't give me 10 minutes, three times a week over the last couple of weeks?" And they say, "No, I did 12 minutes on Sunday and 14 minutes of exercise on Tuesday and 16 minutes on Wednesday."

The point I'm making is I think it's important not to discourage people with unrealistic goals.

I think it's important to get people moving in the right direction. I truly believe that people in many respects resemble the principle of physics called inertia.

A body at rest tends to remain at rest. A body in motion tends to remain in motion. And our goal is to get you moving in the direction of your goals.

Another example might be a 305 pound patient who approaches me and says, "Doc, what do I need to do?"

And I'll say, "Certainly, you recognize you need to lose weight." And I always say to them, "What do you think you should weigh? What do you think you could get to?"

I had a patient the other day in the office say, "Well, I weigh 305 pounds. I think I can get to 275."

My answer is always, "That's a great initial goal weight." I think it's important to get people moving. And I'll say, "Why do you think that's a great initial goal weight." Because the patient will respond, "I was there literally three months ago, so I know I'm at 305 now I can get down to 275." Once again, the key principle is to get people moving in the direction of their goals and they'll ultimately be successful.

Next: How Soon Can I Resume Sexual Intercourse After A Heart Attack?

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