As a family member or a friend, you should do your part to help them cope with difficult circumstances with congenital heart disease. Below are some helpful suggestions:
Encourage Low Impact Exercise
Exercise has many benefits, and most people with congenital heart disease should participate in some physical activity regularly. In addition, most kids with congenital heart disease can participate in active play without worrying about the risks associated with exercise as observed in most CHD support programs. Previously, doctors and healthcare practitioners would restrict physical activity in children with congenital heart disease, but today, most forms of exercise are safe and beneficial for people with the condition.
Before engaging in any physical activity, people with heart conditions should decide what kind of exercise they will perform. While engaging in leisure or competitive activities is generally safe, intense sports may cause unnecessary strain on the cardiovascular system.
Advocate Healthy Eating
Several factors contribute to unhealthily high sodium and fat levels, and you can use the nutrition facts label to help you choose foods with lower levels. For example, avoid foods with added sugar and highly processed grains, which strip nutrients and co-exist with diseases like high cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes. Instead, opt for whole grains that are nutrient-rich and high in fiber.
It’s not unusual for children with congenital heart disease to grow slowly compared to their peers. They may even appear younger than peers of their age and may have lower weight and height than average. Thus, it is crucial to discuss food and nutrition with a healthcare professional.
Counseling And Emotional Support
Counseling as a way to support you or a loved one is an essential step in this journey in dealing with a heart condition. It is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible, as a heart defect can lead to heart failure or other issues. While a heart defect can be cured, it may still be possible to suffer from the consequences of the condition.
A physician specializing in cardiac rehabilitation can help patients regain strength and independence. Cardiopulmonary exercise stress tests can help physicians determine an individual’s aerobic capacity and fitness levels. These tests can also help them set goals for exercise and decide what exercises they should be doing.
Smoking is harmful to the heart and lungs and should be avoided as much as possible if you have a loved one with congenital heart disease. It can increase blood pressure and affect the heart rate, damaging blood vessels throughout the body. Those with congenital heart disease may find it difficult to give up cigarettes, but you can help by discussing the dangers of smoking with your loved one. The risks of secondhand smoke, or passive smoking, are high if you are a smoker. Smoking causes heart disease, circulatory disease, and cancer. By quitting, you’ll protect your loved one, yourself, and the people around you.