Living with Cardiomyopathy

Contents

Testing

When diagnosed with the disease ongoing tests are necessary to determine the severity of condition. Each patient should be treated individually. Various tests and procedures can be done, such as:

  • Echocardiogram - this test is used to measure the size of the heart and gives doctors the ability to listen to the heart.
  • Mugascan - This is a form of an MRI that takes pictures and measures the ejection fraction (the measurement of the pumping of the heart).
  • Exercise stress test - Measures the stress on the heart caused by exercise and measures the heart rate via ECG.
  • Holtor Monitor - A 24 hour monitoring system; It is attached via electrodes to measure heart rate works as a small ECG machine.
  • Electrocardiogram -Measures the damage on the heart rate by looking at heart rhythms.
  • Chest X-rays
  • Blood Tests - Thyroid, Kidney, Liver, and blood cell counts to build a profile to see other functions of the individual patients body.
  • Heart Biopsies - A procedure that examines the tissue of the heart by actually taking a piece of the heart out to examine it.
  • Cardiac Catheter - Tubes inserted into the arteries and the heart, dye is then injected and flows through the tube and can be seen by the doctor to outline the heart and arteries.

Medications

There are a group of medications that are used together to help stabilize or cure the condition. These medications fall under these categories:

  • ACE-Inhibitors - Prevents the body from creating Angiotensin (causes vessels to tighten and raise blood pressure), these drugs slow the enzyme down an allow the heart to function as efficient as possible, it also reduces blood pressure and widens arteries. Many ace-inhibitors raise your potassium levels so it is important not to have excess potassium in your diet.
  • Beta-Blockers - Used to lower heart rate and reduce stress on the heart by widening the arteries and slowing the heart down. It's primary use is for circulation and blood pressure.
  • Diuretics - Gets rid of extra fluid and salt in the body, yet still maintains the appropriate level of potassium the body would otherwise lose with sodium and fluid.

It is very important to take these medications at the same time each day for the sake of remembering and for an even number of hours each day.

Do not overdose on any medications- the best thing to help you remember taking medications is to get a container that separates medications for each day of the week.

If you do overdose go to hospital immediately. Always have a way to check your blood pressure at home to monitor your heart rate throughout the day, if your blood pressure gets too high or low talk to your cardiologist about dosage of medications.

These medications do not say anything about alcohol on the label- do not drink alcohol. First, alcohol can cause the disease and second, if you are on any blood thinners- your blood alcohol content can become very high- which is very bad for your heart.

It is also important to drink water throughout the day, these medications can dehydrate your system.

It is very important to stay in contact with your cardiologist to order any new tests, new medications, and for any new technology. There is always something new around the corner when it comes to medicines and technology. Talk to other patients about it- get someone else's experience or insight about your disease. If they do not give you any new information they can make you feel comfortable. Remember you are more than likely not the only person with your disease/condition. Always stay current and keep in touch with your doctor! See links to forum and news feeds.

Diet

You need to be as healthy as possible, with any heart problem you need to watch your weight. The heavier you are the harder your heart has to work.

You must also modify your diet due to the medications- many of these medications increase your potassium levels, so it is important to limit your potassium intake. Examples of foods with high potassium would be bananas, baked potatoes, raisins, and apricots.

Drink a lot of water, especially if you are taking diuretics. Diuretics will get rid of a lot of fluid in your body. In order to stay hydrated drink water, especially before you exercise.

Watch your caffeine intake - avoid a lot of coffees and sodas. Caffeine can actually cause stiffness in your arteries.

Stay away from high fat, especially saturated fats because it can cause weight gain and not healthy for your blood flow. If you need beef replace it with chicken, fish, and eggs for protein. Examples: Butter, beef, cheeses, mayo, and potato chips.

Good fats such as fish is excellent for a heart healthy diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are very good for your heart- really any kind of fish is acceptable. Peanut butter and granola allow for good fat intake. Light cottage cheese and mayo are acceptable substitutes for many condiments. Certain nuts such as almonds and dairy products such as yogurt is very healthy.

Wheat products such as wheat pasta is excellent for protein and gives you the pasta taste without the worry of overdoing unhealthy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can turn to fat if you do not exercise enough. Same as sodium intake be careful of carbs because thay can cause you to retain a lot of water.

Fruits and vegetables are always good just watch the potassium heavy produce. Salads with a light salad dressing is a perfectly acceptable meal.

Some recommended heart healthy supplements are fish oil, folic acid, Co Q 10, and vitamins A,C, and D.

Fluids are very important -Teas, water, skim or 1% fat milk, juices ( do not drink or eat any grapefruit; grapefruit can cause your meds to not be fully efficient) Pomegranate juice is excellent.

Exercise

It is a must that you exercise daily. Do not go out and strain yourself by weight lifting extremely heavy weight. Go light with free weights. If you are using a weight bench do not use a lot of weight. See links for Huge Heart's favorite workouts on the web. When lifting weights it is important to breathe properly, do not hold your breathe that can cause palpitations and increase your heart rate. When exercising it is recommended that you check your blood pressure from time to time.

If you love to exercise get appropriate rest and fluid intake. Make sure you are stretching before exercise and drinking water to prevent cramping.

Walking and a slow jog are a must. Treadmills are good, especially to track your heart rate but can be bad for your knees after using one for several years.

Light weight dumbbells for curls and similar exercises are excellent; look at the various exercises on the web that we have listed.

Sit-ups are excellent to get rid of extra weight on the belly, which can be very unhealthy—especially if you are older.

Everyone is different with exercise, exercise at your own pace. If you get out of breathe or get to dehydrated stop exercising. If a certain workout feels too uncomfortable than look at other workouts or talk to your doctor.

Sleep

You must get enough sleep each day. You do not want to turn into a zombie because these medications can cause enough fatigue as it is. Your heart rate can change with how tired your body is- you need to give your body a rest. Sleep is equally as important as diet and exercise.

You may want to get your sleep monitored at some point during diagnosis. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing during sleep, which can put a strain on your heart because it has to work harder.

Sample Health Strategy

If you do not have time to make a health strategy for yourself, you can check out my health strategy below.

Medication:

Take morning medication- Try to take at the same time each day

  • Do not miss a dose- if you do skip it unless within a 2 hr span
  • During the week- take morning meds @ 7:30 am
  • On the weekend-take morning meds @ 9 am

Take evening meds - take same time each night
Week- 7:30 pm
Weekend- 9:00 pm

Exercise:

After work before dinner
Treadmill after work for 15-20 minutes
Sit ups after treadmill
Light weights every other day after sit ups before dinner
Weight Bench- 3 times a week M, W, Sat.

Fluids:

80 ounces of water throughout the day
16 ounces of which come before and after exercise

1% fat milk or skim-morning or during dinner
Pom Juice in morning
Crystal Light Lemonade
Green Tea before bed

Foods:

Breakfast:

  1. Bowl of Cereal, Milk, piece of fruit, or pom juice
  2. or
  3. 2 Fried eggs, piece of fruit, milk or pom, wheat toast
  4. or
  5. Granola, milk, piece of fruit
  6. or
  7. Fried Egg sandwich with milk
  8. or
  9. Yogurt

Lunch:

  1. Ham sandwich with (1) slice of cheese, vegetable-tomato slices, carrots, celery
  2. or
  3. Salad and Tuna Sandwich
  4. or
  5. Egg Salad, Turkey Sandwich, V8, Vegetable
  6. or
  7. Soup, Chicken, Brown Rice

After work before exercise snack:
String Cheese, Veggies, Fruit, Salad, Water, Small Sandwich, Almonds

Dinner:

  1. Chicken, Broccoli, Brown Rice
  2. or
  3. Fish, Brown Rice, Broccoli or corn
  4. or
  5. Turkey Chops, Mashed Potato-no skin, Brown Rice
  6. or
  7. Wheat Pasta with Organic tomato sauce, Veggies
  8. or
  9. Veggie Burgers
  10. or
  11. Eggs occasionally for dinner

Rest:

During the week: 15-20 mins after dinner

Weekend: Mid-day or after dinner- 30 min nap after exercise

Sleep:

During the week: 10pm to 6:30 am
Weekend: 12 am at the latest to 8:30am
81/2 hrs per day

Supplements:

Fish Oil
Multi Vitamin
Co Q10
Vitamin C- only in cold season
take after breakfast

Doctor Visits:

Blood Tests every so often
Muga and echo every 6 mos.
Consultation every 3 months

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