Healthy Lifestyle Changes

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As you move forward with your life after your heart valve surgery, making healthy lifestyle changes can have wide-ranging positive effects for your overall health.

Healthy Eating Tips

Because surgery for heart valve replacement or repair does not eliminate the possibility of developing further heart disease, a heart-healthy diet is an important component to daily life following surgery.Think of what you eat in a typical week. How can you make your diet more heart healthy? That means eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And it means eating less processed food, such as chips, sugary cereals and canned foods.

  • Treat yourself and your heart to lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and fat-free or low-fat milk products
  • Minimize the salt and focus on pepper and other low- or no-sodium spices to add flavor
  • Boost your energy with foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as wheat pasta, sweet potatoes and whole-grain breads

Keep in mind it’s not just what you eat, it’s also how you prepare it: Grilling, microwaving and baking are all ways to keep the nutrition high without adding extra oil or fat.

Tempted to skip a meal? It will hurt, not help. Five to six small meals throughout the day help burn fat calories more efficiently, maintain your energy and regulate your cholesterol.

For more information on a heart-healthy diet, visit the American Heart Association's HeartHub for Patients Web site:

Plenty of Rest

Be sure to get enough sleep and take the time to rest during the day, especially if you feel tired during any activity. Being active is important, but it is also important to provide your body with adequate rest.

Regular Doctor Visits

Be sure to schedule regular follow-up appointments with your cardiologist, even if you are feeling fine. Your doctor may advise you that annual visits are sufficient, but be sure to call him or her any time you have questions or experience a health problem.