People mostly survive their first heart attack and return to their normal life and enjoy further years of productive activity. But having a heart attack also means that you need to make certain changes in your life and lifestyle.
A heart attack is a life-threatening medical condition in which the blood flows to the heart and then suddenly stops. Surviving a heart attack however depends on how quickly it is treated and on its severity. Adherence to correct form of treatment while sticking to a heart healthy lifestyle may help prevent future heart attacks.
Recovery after a Heart Attack
Recovery after a heart attack starts right at the hospital. You will go home once you are fit, have no further symptoms and when your condition is settled.
- Adequate supplies of medicines
- You should have detail information about any new medicine (how to take them, when should you take them etc)
- A detail and well documented plan of action which you may need to follow
- Any necessary follow-ups with the doctor
- If you have had a heart surgery then get details Instructions about the wound care
- Information on lifestyle changes to cut back the risk of future attacks
Recovery Back At Home
Worry not. Your doctor will advise you of the important medications, which you may have to adhere to. He may also advise you about lifestyle changes according to the severity of heart attack and the degree of heart damage. It’s pretty much possible for the doctor to make a bit of adjustments in the medicines and their dosage. He may also put you on new medicines to control and treat your heart attack symptoms.
It’s vital that you talk to your doctor about medication
- Clearly understand the timing and schedule of your medication
- Ask your doctor about any possible side effects of medication
Take Care of Your Emotional Health after a Heart Attack
Emotional upheaval is common after an attack. Survivors usually go through a whole range of emotions such as depression, fear, anger and loneliness.
Statistical data reveals;
- 15% of people who have survived a heart attack become seriously depressed in the first few weeks
- Another 25% experience milder levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms
- 4 in 10 patients do experience quite severe emotional responses
(Data Source: bhf.org.uk)
All of these negative feelings are common, however you should find ways to deal with them otherwise they may interfere with your family life and work. Needless to say; they may also have a sheer negative impact on your recovery. Meditate and exercise, listen to soft music or talk to somebody to deal with your depression.
Let’s not deny; surviving a heart attack is definitely a life-changing event. You need to make a few life style changes to target the risk factors for future attacks.
Below Are A Few Lifestyle Changes for You to Mull Over
Stay away from smoking: Believe it or not; cigarette smoking stands as the primary risk factor for heart diseases hence quitting is the most important thing that you can do to keep your heart healthy. In fact your risk of future attack drops when you quit smoking
Treat High Cholesterol & blood pressure: High cholesterol and high level of blood pressure damage your arteries and over a period of time elevated level of BP and cholesterol also increases your risk of future heart attacks. Check your blood pressure, follow a healthy exercise regimen, eat a healthy diet, and do not stress to keep your BP in control. Although lifestyle changes may help however they may not be enough so take the prescribed medications to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
Treat Obesity & diabetes: Both obesity and diabetes are major risk factors for heart attack. Work with your health care team to keep control over blood sugar level. Develop a plan to manage obesity and blood sugar. Try and get the best mix of good eating, activity, medications and weight management.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: As per AHA – the American Heart Association, a heart-healthy diet should be
- Low in saturated fat
- low in sodium
- Should contain 4/5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day
- Should include 2 servings of fish a week
- Should include 3 times servings of 1-ounce of fiber-rich whole grains
- Should contain no more than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages a week
In fact; there could be some other restrictions on your diet so ask your doctor clearly about the foods you should not eat.
Do not Stress: Research has clearly proved that stress is a risk factor for heart disease as it can also trigger a heart attack. Manage your stress level to safeguard your heart health.
Finally; stick to measurable, realistic and time-oriented goals to become more active. Talk to your doctor to figure out appropriate exercise levels and dietary changes. Moreover; if you find; depression and stress is playing a negative effect in your life, don’t be embarrassed to seek counseling.
How long you may have to rest after your heart attack?
Of course; rest is the most important factor after a heart attack, however; it’s equally important to participate in social events and recreation. Keep in mind; a good night’s sleep is very significant for heart attack patients. Take a nap if you feel tired.
When should you get back to work after an attack?
In most of the cases heart attack patients get back to work within three to four weeks however the timeline of recovery depends on the severity of your attack. Your doctor will be able to figure out when you can go back to work.
Is it normal to feel chest pain after a heart attack?
As already briefed, you are at higher risk of heart attack once you have had one. Not every heart attack survivor will have chest pain however if you do feel then talk to your doctor. You may feel light pain after exertion, or after eating a heavy meal or even due to intense emotion or eating a heavy meal.
A heart attack is not a sign that you should back away from life! It is a sign that you need to make your physical and mental health a priority.