Exercise needs differ among heart patients
Exercise is important to heart health, and Ferguson suggests that patients strive for 30 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise at a time. “I do believe in strength training, as well,” she said. “The more muscle we have, the more calories we can burn. An exercise program isn't complete without maintaining a heart healthy diet, which is low in fat and salt.”
Ferguson has been employed with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic since August 2012, after completing her internal medicine residency, cardiology fellowship, and interventional cardiology fellowship with Baylor College of Medicine.
If a patient is recovering from a heart attack or stroke, Ferguson said exercise routines should be different.
“I do not recommend strength training with excessive weight, as this can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels,” she said. “Cardiac rehab is also an important tool that should be used after someone has had a heart attack. For stroke patients, the types of routines that will benefit them the most should be tailored according to the type of stroke they had.”
Ferguson said patients can improve blood pressure by maintaining a healthy weight. “Losing 10 percent of their current weight, if the patient is overweight, can significantly decrease blood pressure in addition to other health benefits,” she said. “Patients need to be on a low salt diet and abstain from alcohol.”
Anyone with a heart condition should avoid certain exercises, but Ferguson said which ones depend on the condition.
“For example, coronary artery bypass surgery patients should avoid any exercise that may strain the sternum. Heart patients should ease into aerobic exercises. They should walk before they run and work up to exercises that demand more aerobic endurance,” she said. “Patients who have uncontrolled hypertension should not perform any strenuous weight-bearing exercise, as this can raise the blood pressure to dangerous levels.”
Ferguson said patients can find helpful resources on websites such as the American Heart Association (www.heart.org) and the American College of Cardiology (www.cardiosource.org).
NAME: Angela Ferguson
EDUCATION: Baylor College of Medicine internal medicine residency, Baylor College of Medicine-Texas Heart Institute for Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology Fellowship
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Works at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, The Woodlands
FAST FACT: She has a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Mark DeHaven is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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