There’s no denying that having a heart attack is scary, and it’s even more frightening to know that once you’ve had one, your risk of a future heart attack is higher. But thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect your heart from future harm.
Read on to learn how diet and exercise improve your physical health. Then, we’ll share how improving your mental health reduces your stress and lowers your risk of heart disease. Finally, we’ll help you figure out how to get life insurance after a heart attack so you can make sure your loved ones are taken care of.
Improving Physical Health for Your Heart
A healthy lifestyle includes diet, exercise, and good habits in place of bad ones. And recovering from a heart attack is the perfect time to improve your health.
There are many heart-healthy diet regimes you can follow and food strategies you can take. Some plans are specific to women losing weight, while others are geared toward a wider audience. But the basics of healthy eating are universal.
You need to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables and limit your intake of unhealthy fats. Look for foods that are low in fat but also high in protein. Also, whole grains are a better choice than refined grains.
Adding fish to your diet at least twice a week can help you consume better fats and improve your heart health. Working with a nutritionist and your doctor, you can even build a meal plan that meets your needs and desires.
If you’re used to an unhealthy diet, changing things over to focus on health can be difficult, but you’ll find healthy foods you love, and if you’re into cooking, you’ll start to enjoy making foods to nourish your body.
Exercise to Build a Strong Heart
Cardiovascular exercise is critical for heart health, but any activity is better than no exercise. If the thought of running a 5K keeps you on the couch out of anxiety, try something more within reach, like walking around the block.
If you start small, you can build from there. The important thing is to get moving and focus on getting some exercise every day.
After a couple of months of exercising, it will become part of your routine, and you can focus on improving your strength and endurance.
Quit Bad Habits to Prevent Heart Damage
If you smoke, you have up to four times greater risk of heart disease than a non-smoker. As tough as it is, your heart health is worth the sacrifice. Join a support group, find a doctor that will help you on your journey to becoming smoke-free, and share your progress with those you love for accountability.
Heavy drinking is also associated with adverse effects on the heart. So, if you’ve already had a health scare with your heart, it’s even more critical to reduce your alcohol consumption and do what you can to prevent further damage.
Reduce Anxiety for Better Heart Health
It’s critical to take a holistic approach to your heart health. Your body directly impacts your heart, but your mind also affects your heart.
People who have higher stress levels tend to have poorer physical health. While caring for your physical health is essential, so is taking care of your mental health, including making changes to reduce stress in your life.
Health Risks of Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can cause your heart rate to increase and blood pressure to rise. These effects put stress on your heart and make it work harder than it needs to. In fact, panic attacks often closely resemble heart attacks.
In general, high levels of stress and anxiety reduce your immune system and make it hard to be healthy and enjoy life.
Anxiety and Recovery
When you’re recovering from a heart attack, it’s only natural to feel some anxiety over your future health. But it’s essential not to let those fears take over your well-being. If your stress is causing you to avoid friends and activities you usually love and keeps you from taking care of your physical health, you need to find help.
Finding the Help You Need for Anxiety
Your doctor can be your greatest asset in combating anxiety. A good doctor will provide you with resources that can help you, referrals when you need them, and medication when necessary.
In addition to working with a doctor, you should get involved with your community to find support. Meeting people who have been through similar experiences can help you not feel alone and can give you an outlet for talking through your fears with someone who understands.
Taking a yoga class is another way to relieve stress while also building a strong body.
Life Insurance After a Heart Attack
Some life events can give you the label of being uninsurable. And unfortunately, a heart attack is one of those events. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. You just don’t have all the options.
Insurance premiums are based on your risk, and the higher the risk that the insurance provider will lose money on you, the higher the premiums they’ll charge. And at some point, they’ll decide your risk is too high to insure at all.
Term Life Insurance After a Heart Attack
Term life insurance is the essential way to provide for your family if something happens to you and you have children and debt. If you’ve had a heart attack, though, you probably won’t be able to get term life insurance.
If you already had a policy, you’re in luck, though, because once that term is written, the insurance company can’t cancel it as long as you continue to make your payments. So, for example, if you bought a 30-year term life insurance policy at 30 years old and had a heart attack at 45, you can keep your policy until your term expires when you’re 60 years old.
Employer Life Insurance
Many employer-sponsored life insurance plans are guaranteed enrollment, so you’ll have a life insurance policy as long as you’re employed there. You’ll have to investigate what your employer offers and read the fine print to know what you’re entitled to.
For many uninsurable individuals, an employer-sponsored life insurance policy is the only way to get life insurance.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance is available with a wide range of death benefit amounts. However, many experts recommend other methods of investment as superior to whole life insurance.
Even if you decide you want whole life insurance, you will likely encounter difficulty qualifying for many types of whole life insurance if you’ve had a heart attack.
However, you can usually find a type of whole life insurance policy called a guaranteed issue policy. They cost more than term policies and provide a smaller death benefit, but they’re worth considering if you need the policy to cover funeral arrangements.
You don’t want to leave your family scrambling to find funding for a funeral when they’re trying to deal with your loss. Whole life insurance is a great way to cover those expenses.
Having a heart attack can help you reset your physical and mental health. It can give you a new beginning and a renewed zest for life. Taking care of your physical and mental health can help you reduce your risk of a future heart attack, and finding life insurance will help you provide peace of mind that you’re protecting your family.
Melanie Musson writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, EffortlessInsurance.com. She’s passionate about helping others understand how insurance can provide them and their families with a strong financial foundation.