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top ways to live long with heart disease

Don’t become your disease.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your heart failure and your personal struggle with it. But don’t let it define who you are or what you do with your life.

“Always keeping a positive attitude,” says Allison Durant, “is definitely key.”

Durant, 27, was diagnosed with heart failure and cardiac sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease of the heart, when she was 23. She had a pacemaker implanted in her chest, and she deals with the realities of her condition every day.

She tries to keep a positive attitude, but when that gets tough, she reaches out to family and friends.

“I would definitely say surrounding yourself with good people makes it a little easier, people that understand kind of what you’re going through,” she says. “And finding a good support group.”

Take your medicine.

It may seem obvious, but with heart failure, it’s crucial. The sooner you get a handle on it, the better.

Some of the medicines your doctor may recommend include:

ACE inhibitors: These relax blood vessels to keep your blood pressure low and reduce the load on your heart.

Beta-blockers: They lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate.

Digoxin: It strengthens the force of the heart muscle’s contractions and slows the heart rate.

Diuretics: They’re also known as “water pills.”

Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs): Also relax blood vessels and make it easier for your heart to do its job.

Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine: Relaxes blood vessels.

These medications can also help you:

Live longer
Breathe easier
Have more energy
Get more active
Have less swelling
Stay out of the hospital
Durant says that every day she takes about five different medications. Every Saturday, she sits down in front of a pillbox marked with each day of the week and fills it with her daily medications. That’s it. She’s to the point now where taking pills is second nature.