Heart Disease, Living Well with (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
If you follow the diet and exercise guidelines after bypass surgery what are the chances of new blockage occurring?

KRUMHOLZ:
There's nothing more important after bypass surgery than realizing heart disease cannot be cured by surgical procedure. Some people have the misunderstanding that once they've had surgery they are cured. Your question suggests to me that you understand that the work in preventing future problems begins immediately and will continue for the rest of your life. Adopting a good diet and finding ways to increase your physical activity appropriately can be good strategies in helping you avoid ever having to undergo surgery again.

All of the key strategies that I mention in the book should be required reading for anyone who has had to undergo bypass surgery. I have known many patients who were the healthiest they ever were in their lives after their surgery and once they recognized what they needed to do to stay healthy.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My blood pressure is very high (174/118). I have no other risk factors for heart disease except chronic illness and meds (Rheumatoid Arthritis). Which do you recommend giving higher priority to -- the care of the disease and subsequent heart damaging drugs, or protecting my heart and taking fewer meds?

KRUMHOLZ:
This is an important question. People rarely have only one medical condition to address. And often need to balance one or more conditions in order to find the best approach for them. Fortunately, with many of the strategies we have today, more than one condition can be addressed at the same time.

For high blood pressure there are strategies that do not require medications. Even if your blood pressure is very high, these strategies can help make it so you require less medication to control it. Elevated blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. You should not have to be in a position where you need to ignore the blood pressure in order to treat another condition.

You should work with your doctor to make sure both conditions are adequately addressed.

"For people who wish to live a long and healthy life, even after a diagnosis of heart disease, there are clear strategies that will help them."

MODERATOR:
We are almost out of time, Dr. Krumholz. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

KRUMHOLZ:
My greatest hope is that this book will help people chart a course for themselves that will lead to a longer and healthier life without the sense that the course requires sacrifice. What it does require is that they take charge of their health, take responsibility for their health, and make decisions that are most aligned with their goals and values.

For people who wish to live a long and healthy life, even after a diagnosis of heart disease, there are clear strategies that will help them. This book is an attempt to put the information in their hands that they need to pursue these strategies.

MODERATOR:
We are out of time. Our thanks to Harlan Krumholz, MD, for joining us today. And thanks to you, members, for your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them. For more information, please read Dr. Krumholz's book, The Expert Guide to Beating Heart Disease: What You Absolutely Must Know . For more discussion on this topic, be sure to visit the WebMD message boards to ask questions of our online health professionals, and to share questions, comments, and support with other WebMD members.


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