Kootenai | Kootenai Health | Issue 1, 2020

22 Q As someone who was recently diagnosed with a heart condition, how can I gradually add physical activity to my life? What are some things I should keep an eye on to make sure I’m exercising safely? Before starting, make sure to check with your cardiologist or cardiac surgeon about any specific restrictions for your condition. For some heart conditions, cardiac rehabilitation is available and is a great way to work on being more active in a monitored setting. Easydoes it With any heart condition, it is important to gradually work to increase your activity level. If you haven’t been active or if you’ve had a major cardiac event, start by walking 3 to 10 minutes at a slow pace daily. If you get shortness of breath or chest pain, be sure to rest. Also check in with your cardiologist if you experience chest pain. If you feel your heart racing, slow down your pace—a rapid rise in heart rate is typically a sign that the heart and lungs are deconditioned (out of shape). It will take time to get them back in shape; let your body be your guide in this process. You may need to watch your heart rate for some conditions, but for most you can go by how you feel. Consistency is key It’s important to make a plan that works for you. If you cannot walk because of joint or muscle problems, consider using a stationary bike or walking in water. If you are walking outside, make sure you have a plan for when the weather is bad, like a treadmill or a place to walk inside. Consistency is important to get the cardiovascular system in shape. Make a goal to eventually be active 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Dr. Rau is an interventional cardiologist at Kootenai Heart Clinics in Coeur d’Alene. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call (208) 625-5250 . Elizabeth Rau, M.D. Interventional Cardiologist, Kootenai Heart Clinics Ask the Expert