Your doctor and other members of your healthcare team can help you develop a treatment plan suited to your current health and health risks. Your team can also help you understand your plan and figure out ways to put it into action. You don't have to make all the changes at once. In fact, trying to change things all at once usually doesn't work. If you smoke and eat too much fat, for instance, you may want to quit smoking first. Then, you can begin lowering the fat in your diet. Your healthcare team will help you make these decisions. Whatever areas you need to work on, the key is to use a sensible plan that you can follow for life.
What efforts will this take from me?
Although your healthcare team can help, only you can take charge of your health and actually make the lifestyle changes you need.
- If you have high cholesterol, it's up to you to choose to eat a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol - and to take medicine, if needed.
- If you have been told to watch the salt in your diet or take other steps to control your blood pressure, it is up to you to follow through.
- Only you can commit to a program of regular physical activity.
- You're the one who must work to lose excess pounds and quit smoking, if needed.
- If your doctor prescribes medicine, you're the person who has to take it as directed.
It is your right as a patient to get the combination of the best treatment plan components. You deserve the best possible care. This means you must take these actions.
- Practice asking for what you want so you'll be able to say it when the time comes.
- Be assertive about what you want and don't want.
- Don't give up. It may take some time until you have the right mix of treatment options.
- Be a good medical consumer. If you have tried to make changes and they are not working, you may have to switch treatment plans. Make sure you have a healthcare provider who will work with you to reach your goals.