Weight Loss for Open Heart Patients
For open heart surgery patients, the actual surgery is just one step to a healthier life.
After the painstaking recovery and cardiac therapy, heart patients are tasked with taking care of their own health. This includes medication management, stress relief, diet, and of course exercise. As a recovering heart patient, all of these factors were critical to my current positive health. But the one area, more than any other, that I found most challenging was weight reduction.
Once I left the hospital and began my three times a week cardiac therapy, I began to get back into the groove of eating normally. Open heart surgery takes a lot out of you. Immediately after the surgery, you don't eat for a few days, as medical professionals monitor your vitals and provide the appropriate nutrients via IV. Once you start cardiac therapy, your real appetite easily comes back.
Over the next four years, I maintained what I felt to be a "healthy weight". Then on a routine health visit to my primary care physician, my lab work showed high blood sugar and very high triglycerides. My perception of a "healthy weight" actually caused me to get diabetes. While my cholesterol level was within range, everything else seemed to be going downhill.
My primary care doctor recommended I try serious dieting and exercise before having to go on, yet, another medicine to control the diabetes. Diet plans never offered much hope for me. I tried the South Beach, Atkin's, and Weight Watchers in the past. All offered minimal success.
I was scared. My primary care doctor clearly recognized my angst. He did one of the simplest, yet smartest things he could have done for me, a young heart patient. He advised me to commit to seeing a dietitian for the next three months.
In my head I thought, how different could this be than one of the weight reduction programs already out there? But, he rationalized that heart patients have much more complex dieting issues because of their lifestyle, medications, and experience.
I committed to seeing a dietitian. Fortunately for me, she was a diabetes educator as well. She instructed me on what the right foods were and more importantly how much to eat. She gave me a customized meal plan and supporting materials.
In the first week, I struggled with the plan as I thought about food often, but with her support and materials I managed to get through. Every week after became easier. After consistently seeing a dietitian and continuing to do so, I dropped over fifteen pounds in less than three months. I've kept the weight off and most of all seen a reduction in my diabetes indicator and triglyceride levels.
While being a young heart patient is difficult. It's important to take advantage of resources like dietitians and primary care physicians to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most insurance plans pay for dietitians and other preventative care. Take advantage of them.
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