Life after a Heart Attack
A heart attack is a potentially fatal medical condition in which blood supply to the heart is suddenly interrupted due to a blocked coronary artery, which also damages the surrounding tissues.
How quickly you recover from a heart attack depends on the severity of the disease and how fast it is addressed. Overall, recovering following a heart attack might take months.
- Change in medications
- Change in diet
- Change in lifestyle
- Emphasis on managing other risk factors
- Paying attention to your emotions
- Lower workload
What to expect after having a heart attack?
- Change in medications: One of the first things you might notice in the hospital is a change in your medication schedule. Your dosage may be revised by your doctor. You will certainly be prescribed new medications as well.
Doing so will give you better treatment and control your symptoms and factors that caused your heart attack.
- Change in diet: You will be asked to take a low-fat, low-calorie diet to reduce the risk of a second heart attack. The main objective is to minimise salt, red meat, trans fat and saturated fats, limit calories, while emphasising potassium-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats, fish, etc.
- Change in lifestyle: You will be asked by your medical team to change your lifestyle which will include incorporating exercise in your daily life, quitting smoking, eating heart-healthy food, limiting alcohol, etc. A heart-healthy lifestyle can complement the treatment of heart disease.
After you’ve recovered from a heart attack, you can begin with an exercise regime as long as your doctor grants you permission. Regular exercise is not only beneficial for weight loss, but it also strengthens your cardiac muscles.
Any type of exercise that gets your heart pounding is good for you. However, remember to stop immediately and seek emergency medical treatment if you feel any odd symptoms while exercising, such as persistent shortness of breath, weak limbs, or chest pain.
- Emphasis on managing other risk factors: Most heart attacks can be traced back to poor lifestyle choices. Apart from food, exercise, alcohol consumption and smoking habits, additional risk factors that may contribute to future heart attacks such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid, stress and anxiety must be managed.
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- Paying attention to your emotions: It is quite normal to feel anxious, depressed and in denial after you have had a heart attack. This can affect your family life, daily life and may interrupt your exercising regime or sleeping patterns.
Spending time with your doctor or a mental health professional can assist you in dealing with unpleasant emotions. Also, let your family know what you’re going through. Doing so will help you feel better sooner.
- Lower workload: To avoid a second heart attack, you are expected to ease back into your normal routine gradually. If your everyday tasks are stressful, you may need to change them. It might take up to three months for your doctor to give you the green light to return to work.
Depending on how stressful your job is, you may need to drastically reduce your workload or gradually return to it on a part-time basis.