Addressing other health issues
One other area that Dr. Mattina wanted to work on was getting Stephanie’s blood pressure down. Several factors can contribute to high blood pressure, and changes in exercise and diet can definitely help.
Dr. Mattina also ordered a sleep test for Stephanie and she was found to have sleep apnea and put on a CPAP machine.
“I used to be so tired I would take naps every day for a couple of hours,” Stephanie says. “Now with the CPAP, I don’t take naps at all, my sleep at night is better and I’m not tired.”
All of these changes helped to reduce Stephanie’s high blood pressure. Dr. Mattina had told her upfront that she wanted to get it down to about 110.
“I thought there was no way that was going to happen,” Stephanie says. “Well, it’s happening.”
While Stephanie has seen many associated benefits from her healthy lifestyle changes, they have also worked in the treatment of the original condition that caused her to seek out the Women’s Heart Center: her atrial fibrillation. Studies have shown that regular aerobic activity can decrease AFib symptoms. In addition, addressing sleep apnea can help reduce strain on the heart that leads to AFib, so using the CPAP machine is an important part of her treatment plan.
Stephanie also was recently diagnosed with a high level of a special type of cholesterol known as Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), which increases the risk of forming fatty plaques in the arteries. She has been working with Dr. Mattina to complete additional work-up and determine other ways to reduce her cardiovascular risk.
Enjoying life to the fullest
“I’m grateful to Dr. Mattina and her team at the Women’s Heart Center,” Stephanie says. “I’ve come really far, and I’m doing so much better following the recommendations. Now I can focus on the things I enjoy the most.”
Including exercise. A year later, Stephanie’s life has been completely transformed, and she’s gone from dreading exercise to enjoying it.
“It’s pretty fantastic,” Stephanie says. “In the past, I had tried jazzercise, but now I can do much more in this class. This includes aerobics, balance exercises and strength training. I can definitely notice the difference. I can keep up with the class, and instead of rolling over on my side for some moves, I can just sit up. I can even do a side plank.”
She has more energy, especially after exercising, and can perform other activities of daily living with ease.
“I can pick up and carry a case of water into the house, which makes me very happy,” Stephanie says. “Before, it would be just too heavy for me.”
But her favorite activity? Hula hooping.
“When I come home each day, I’ll play some music low in the background, and do my hula hoop for about 10 minutes,” Stephanie says. “I love it, and it reminds me of where I was. There was no way I could do this in the past.”