Exercise and fitness
You’ll know already that it’s “important” to exercise regularly for your overall wellbeing. Yeah – right. But hang on – it’s true!
Regular exercise has lots of benefits. It can improve your mood, help you maintain a healthy weight, gives you an excuse (not that you’ll need it!) to meet up with friends if you can find sports or activity you like doing together — exercise it just great for so many reasons! And if you’ve had Kawasaki Disease, and have some heart damage as a result, did you know that regular exercise is GREAT for your heart health too! Kawasaki Disease isn’t a reason to not exercise and enjoy activity and sports. No no! Quite the opposite!
In fact, if you’ve had Kawasaki Disease, you might find that you’re even more motivated to stay active and healthy. It’s even more important (hey, there’s that word again…) for you to have a healthy lifestyle — so go on, get out there and get active!
You could take up running? Easy to get going, very little “kit” required – just trainers – and if you’re just starting out, why not try out a Couch to 5K running plan? You can find one here.
Or join a local running club – you can find a running club in your area here.
There are so many sports clubs you can join, the list is endless. It is a great way to keep fit and socialise. You’re more likely to keep active if you have fun and when there’s other people to enjoy yourself with.
And if running isn’t for you – or perhaps you don’t have a bike to cycle (another great way to get active), don’t underestimate the benefits of walking. It is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active – and improve your fitness and stamina. Plug in your headphones….and off you go!
On Facebook? Why not look up Societi Active? This is a page run by super-motivated Societi Foundation volunteers, always coming up with great ideas, competitions and challenges! They are all things you can take part in easily and be part of a HUGE virtual community of people of all ages, all keen to get Kawasaki Disease known. They host running events, group challenges and more. Go on. Look us up!
Anticoagulation and contact sports - what you need to know
Anticoagulation — what’s that? Sounds like jargon eh? Have a quick read below — all will be explained…!
The chances are, if you’re on anticoagulation medication right now, this is a very familiar term! You’ll know, better than us, that these are specialist medicines used to reduce the likelihood of blood clots forming. If you’re taking – or have just been prescribed – anticoagulation medicines (called anticoagulants), it is probably because you have a coronary artery aneursym, or widening in the blood vessels in your heart, which might be a space in which blood flow can slow. When blood flow slows, it likes to clot. In fact, it is designed to do this. There are pretty cool substances in everyone’s blood which mean if you cut yourself, a clot forms. That means you don’t carry on bleeding and the cut can heal under the clot (or scab). Clever eh? When a clot happens in your bloodstream though – this isn’t so clever! In fact it can be pretty serious and the clot can form a blockage, which might lead to you being seriously unwell and needing urgent hospital care.
The chance of getting blood clots inside your body can be reduced a lot by taking anticoagulants. These medicines are sometimes described as ‘blood thinners’ – which we think is a bit weird! Because anticoagulants are medicines that prevent blood from clotting as quickly or as effectively as normal, but your blood isn’t actually made any thinner – it just does not clot so easily!
So, why all the talk of these medicines on a page about activity and sports?! Good question!
Let’s explain a bit more.
If you’re taking anticoagulants, your blood won’t clot quickly. That’s the purpose of the medicine. So, a few of the most intense contact sports like rugby – where the risk of bumps, bruises and cuts is actually quite high, should usually be avoided. That’s because, if you’re injured, there’s a risk of extra complications like uncontrolled bleeding. If you’re taking anticoagulants and your doctor hasn’t talked to you about contact sports, or other risks (like bruising easily) whilst you’re on this medicine, make an appointment to see them so you can talk it through. Take your phone with you and show them this page if it helps!
A healthy diet
Eating healthily and making healthy choices about food is important if you have had Kawasaki Disease. You’ve almost certainly heard that from your doctor!! We know! But actually, it’s pretty important if you haven’t had Kawasaki Disease too! Eating well, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight are all things you can do to stay physically fit, and to improve your overall wellbeing.
Eating a well balanced diet, low in saturated fat, sugar and salt will help to keep your heart healthy. The NHS website has a dedicated page for teens and healthy eating – which is here It’s got lots of great info and we think it’s pretty helpful because it’s not about fads or faff – but instead, tells you straight! It says right at the start “Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate.” Good advice, eh?
There’s a lot of websites out there which might give you pretty random advice too – stuff you can’t trust, so keep an eye out for those. It’s a bit of an online minefield sometimes isn’t it? Well – if the NHS website doesn’t float your boat, no problem – there’s a lot of other really GREAT info: try this website – from The Mix here and you’ll find tonnes of great tips and support, on a whole range of topics besides healthy lifestyles, but we think their healthy lives stuff is just great.
Health risks - smoking, drinking and taking drugs
Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs can all have a serious, negative effect on your overall health and the health of your heart.
If these topics have come up when you’ve seen your GP, or your hospital doctor, you’ll have heard from them that this is all stuff to be avoided! If you have heart damage because of Kawasaki Disease, your doctor might have spent time talking with you about why it’s important to avoid smoking, illegal drug use and excessive alcohol. Doctors understand – and we do too – that as you’re growing up, there are lots of influences and sometimes lots of pressures on you, linked to these things.
The best info and support on these topics that we know of is the Talk to Frank website – you can find it here. It’s great. They provide lots of detailed information, more than we could provide for sure – but also offer some really good advice about ways to deal with peer pressure. Check it out!