If you’ve recently received a pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) diagnosis from your doctor, the future may be a bit murky. Dealing with this progressive disorder means that your life will change. However, you can take some control back by learning how to live a healthy life with PAH instead of just taking medication.
Here are ten lifestyle changes and tips for healthy living with PAH…
1. Be Open and Honest With Your Doctor
The first step in adapting to life with PAH is by forming a team of supportive heath care professionals around you. This team might include your primary care physician, your cardiovascular specialist, a nutritionist, and a personal trainer. Honesty and transparency about your medical history, routine day, dietary, and activity levels will all help your team provide the best pro-active care possible to suit your new lifestyle.
Part of understanding your new diagnosis of PAH will mean getting a clear picture of your day-to-day life. A journal to record everything from diet to activity levels and symptoms to questions for your doctor will help you comprehend your disease and provide the best information to your healthcare providers.
3. Daily Exercise
Even though you are suffering with a disease, physical activity is important to help you live a healthy lifestyle with PAH. You will want to steer clear of any physical activities that leave you breathless and stress out the heart and lungs. However, light impact physical activity—like gentle yoga, swimming, and hiking will all get you moving in the right direction. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether starting or continuing an exercise program is right for you.
4. Be Proactive With Your Health
Part of taking control of your life and health will encompass getting involved, asking questions, and doing your own research prior and after your doctor’s visits. This is where keeping a journal or detailed notebook of questions, side effects, progress since you last visit, and setbacks will help your doctor provide the best, custom health advice.
5. Alter Your Diet
A balanced, nutritious diet—based on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins will be vital to your future health. A doctor or nutritionist can only provide the advice, but it’s up to you to incorporate these heart-healthy changes into your lifestyle. You may have to cut out refined sugar, saturated fat, and sodium; however, working with your health care team will help you make these changes successfully.
6. Personal Support
Along with professional health support, encouragement and assistance from family and friends will help you maintain you’re new, healthier lifestyle once you leave the medical office. Be sure to communicate openly with your spouse, children, friends, and if you’re comfortable, coworkers to help you stay on track and better cop with the management of your disease.
7. Butt Out
If you’ve been diagnosed with PAH and are still a smoker, you already know the health consequences. Not only will you feel the daily breathing difficulties, smokers with PAH suffer even greater restriction than non smokers to the blood vessels in their lungs to tighten even more, and they also suffer even more stress on the heart as a result.
8. Take Personal Stock
Even though you have PAH, that doesn’t mean your entire life has to stop. Many patients with PAH live healthier, more active lives after diagnosis while maintaining a successful career and personal life. Talk with your health care providers and those close to you about the pending lifestyle changes you plan to make. You may need to adjust your job, your busy schedule, and make changes to your diet and sex life. However, you will be healthier for these proactive lifestyle changes.