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Coronary Artery Disease & How Physiotherapy Can Help

According to the Irish Institute for Public Health, it is estimated that by 2020, 103,000 people in Ireland will be diagnosed with coronary artery disease. There are several ways that this condition can be treated, such as drugs, bypass surgeries, and angioplasties. Regardless of which, if any, of these techniques are used, lifestyle changes will always be required to fully address the issue in the long-term. In this blog, we’re going to focus on how physiotherapy can help people who have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart harden and narrow over time. As we age, our blood vessels begin to stiffen up. If this is combined with improper diet & exercise, it can lead to the build-up of cholesterol and plaque. All of these factors narrow the passages through which our blood travels, meaning the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The result is a heart that is overworked, less efficient, and weakened over time. This can then result in a heart attack.

What are the Signs & Symptoms?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many physical symptoms that will suggest you may be suffering from Coronary Artery Disease. The only real symptoms that can be observed externally are shortness of breath, and angina (chest pain, usually for a few minutes). The best way to judge whether or not you are at risk is to examine your lifestyle. People who eat lots of fatty foods and do not get much exercise are far more at risk than those who eat healthy and exercise regularly. Smoking is also one of the major contributing factors in developing this condition.

How can Physiotherapy Help?

If you have suffered a heart attack as a result of coronary artery disease, physiotherapy will be one of the most important factors in your rehabilitation. The ultimate goal will be to return you to the quality of life you had before the attack, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle moving forward. Relaxation and breathing techniques will be used to help you prevent yourself from undergoing too much stress. You will also learn how to better read the signs of your own body, and know when enough exercise is enough.

After a heart attack, you may experience any number of wide ranging issues, from mobility, to comfort, and even confidence. Physiotherapists will identify your issues, and develop exercises to help you regain full mobility, return your heart rate and blood pressure to healthy levels, and most importantly, to be confident and happy with your body and physical ability.

If you have not suffered from a heart attack, physiotherapy can be used to carefully undo the damage caused by coronary artery disease before the problem deteriorates. Learning how to breathe, relax, eat, and exercise properly will prevent you from enduring a heart attack, and give you the best chance at securing the highest quality of life possible for yourself.