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Heart attack warning: Avoid certain activities if you have a heart condition

This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease

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The British Heart Foundation (BHF) advises people diagnosed with a heart condition to “avoid strenuous everyday activities”. This can include carrying very heavy objects, heavy DIY, or digging in the garden. Highly competitive and vigorous sports, such as squash, may not be the best way to spend your time. Any activity that involves breath-holding, grunting or straining may put the heart under unnecessary pressure.

This tends to occur when lifting heavy weights, doing sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups.

“This type of activity can be harmful as it causes a sudden rise in blood pressure,” the BHF explained.

For those who are adamant that they’d like to continue weight training, the BHF suggests you make sure you’re not holding your breath while doing so.

The charity also recommends avoiding “static exercises that require you to exert force against a fixed object”.

Static exercises also include holding the body in a fixed position for a short period of time.

Examples include pushing against a wall, or holding a weight steady out to the side.

“If you’re taking medicines which lower your blood pressure, you should avoid sudden changes in posture,” the BHF cautioned.

This includes standing up very quickly, or suddenly moving from floor-based activities to standing, as it can cause dizziness.

It’s also advisable for people with heart conditions to extend their cool-down period after exercising.

This is because prescribed medication could cause your blood pressure to drop too low if you suddenly stop exercising.

“If you have high blood pressure, you should also avoid physical activity that involves lots of overhead arm work,” added the BHF.

For people who have recently had a heart attack or heart surgery, don’t be quick to cool off in a pool.

Swimming may be OK for some people, but for others, it can cause a strain on the heart muscle.

It’s very important to check with your doctor or cardiac rehab team before you take up swimming.

Exercise and angina

Angina is the pain or discomfort felt in the chest due to coronary heart disease.

Being physically active can trigger symptoms, such as tightness or heaviness in the chest and feeling breathless.

When exercising, the heart demands more oxygen, but the narrowed arteries can’t deliver enough oxygen-containing blood, hence chest pain arises.

“It is important to find out how much activity you can manage to do easily without getting your angina symptoms,” said the BHF.

This is because regular physical activity can improve angina symptoms if done in a sensible way.

The most ideal exercise recommended for people with angina is to walk more often.

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