Categories: Cardiology

Life after a Heart Attack: The path to recovery

Having a heart attack can be life-changing. You may feel scared, confused, overwhelmed, and even angry that it happened to you. But, the good news is many people pull through their first heart attack and get back to their daily lives to enjoy health and happiness once again.

In the event of a heart attack, blood flow to the heart stops abruptly due to a blocked coronary artery causing damage to the surrounding tissues. After your heart attack treatment, your doctor will advise you to be on certain medications and lifestyle changes depending on the extent of damage your heart suffered.

The path to recovery is tough, but how to approach & deal with the condition post-attack understanding what to do after a heart attack and adherence to the proper rehabilitation routine can significantly reduce the chances of another heart attack.

  • Understand Your Medication Routine

If you had a heart attack or myocardial infarction, you would be prescribed certain medications as a part of your treatment plan. These medicines can remarkably lower the odds of another cardiac event. Your doctor might also make a few adjustments to the dosage and number of medications that you are already on.

You need to make sure that you:

  1. Know and remember the names of the medicines you are taking
  2. Follow the dosage and time to take them
  3. Sit with your doctor and learn what each medicine does
  4. Learn about any side effects

Some of the medication generally prescribed are:

  1. Beta-blockers: These medicines reduce the heart rate and workload of the heart, thereby treating high blood pressure and other conditions.
  2. Antithrombotics: Also called antiplatelet or anticoagulant medicines, they are very effective in preventing the formation of blood clots in your arteries.
  3. Statins: Statins lower cholesterol and protect the inner lining of arteries.
  • Don’t Ignore Your Emotions

It is common to feel sad, depression, fear, denial, and anxiety after experiencing a heart attack. Such emotions may typically last for about two to six months, but they tend to fade with time.

You need to reach out to family & friends for help and talk about your feelings. Recovery is much faster when you have a trusted support team of mental health specialists, family, and friends.

Having a heart attack requires you to make specific lifestyle changes to eliminate the chances of another heart attack, disease, and stroke. So, you need to check your current lifestyle and habits and create a new plan for a heart-healthy lifestyle.

  • Regular exercise:

Your doctor may come up with a heart healthy exercise program after you recover from a heart attack. Getting regular exercise works up the muscles of your body as well as the heart.

Note: Make sure you consult with your doctor about the kind of exercise and intensity that is suitable for you. Make                  sure to listen to your body and ramp up your exercise regimen slowly.

  • Eat a balanced diet:

The best Heart healthy diet that you can have to prevent the risk of a heart attack is a low-calorie and low-fat diet. You need to eliminate trans fats and saturated fats from your diet as well.

Your diet should be a balance of plant foods, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. You can also replace animal fats with healthy fats from olive oil and nuts.

  • Quit smoking:

You may have ignored the warning label that smoking is injurious to health in the past, but quitting becomes more important after a heart attack.

Smoking increases your blood pressure and risk for clots as it reduces the capacity of red blood cells to carry oxygen.

  • Find and control other risk factors:

Genetics plays a role in influencing the risk for heart diseases in several ways. But in most cases, unhealthy lifestyle choices are the primary reason for heart attacks. Therefore, along with diet and exercise, you also need to take care of other factors that may lead to heart attacks, such as – hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, too much stress, anxiety, and depression.

Learning time management, meditation, relaxation, yoga can contribute significantly to help reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

  • Educate Yourself on when to Seek Medical Attention

Having a heart attack puts you at a higher risk of having another one in the future. So, you must take care of your body and report any symptoms of a heart attack as soon as they appear, even if they seem slight. Seek emergency medical attention if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  1. Any occurrence of sudden and extreme exhaustion
  2. Chest pain and pain in one or both arms
  3. Abnormally rapid or irregular beating of the heart
  4. Sweating without exercising
  5. dizziness
  6. Swelling of legs
  7. Shortness of breath

Dr. Ritankur Barkotoky, Consultant Interventional Cardiology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Guwahati

Narayana Health

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