Despite its prevalence, CVD can largely be prevented through living a healthy lifestyle, including factors such as a healthy diet, undertaking regular exercise, cessation of smoking and reduction of alcohol consumption.1 These same lifestyle changes are also recommended to those already suffering from a form of CVD in order to manage their condition.5
In Rob’s case, he made exercise a big part of managing his condition and overall health:
‘So this whole experience did sort of arrest – no pun intended – my approach to life, and I ended up making some adjustments. I started off by changing my exercise regime a bit. At first, I didn’t dare go for a run, but I got into walking in a big way. I also modified my diet by giving up alcohol for a few months along with cutting out carbs, which lead to quite a dramatic weight loss of about a stone and a half in around six weeks.
Over time I was able to build up the exercise and incorporate running again – I actually became fairly addicted, going out for a run 5–6 times a week. When it came to the lockdowns in 2020, running became even more important for me, particularly in terms of my mental health. When everything shut down, running became a part of my day that I really looked forward to.
In terms of my condition and health now, I have managed to keep my heart rate where it needs to be and I am at the point where I have been told that I could come off my medication if I wanted to, but apparently it could have some regenerative properties, so I’m staying on it for now.
The big takeaway for me from this whole experience was the exercise. Yes, I lost a bit of weight but beyond that running was amazing for my mental health and it really got me through the lockdowns last year. But you do have to be careful because exercise really can be addictive.
What I did want to say is that I hope my story has made the point that just because you might have a heart or other health condition that might be scary right now, doesn’t mean it will necessarily be an issue for you in five years’ time. Another tip, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about heart disease which if you took at face value (I did) makes you feel that there is little hope. My advice? Don’t read it, listen to your doctor. ’