Experiencing a heart attack can be frightening and a sign that your lifestyle is not doing your heart any favors. Here are five things you need to do after a heart attack to ensure a healthy and effective recovery:
1. Manage Your Medications
After your heart attack, you’ll likely be provided new medications to help relieve symptoms like chest discomfort, as well as conditions that might have contributed to the attack, like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Be sure to discuss any side effects of these medications with your doctor and memorize the dosages prescribed for each one. It’s a good idea to make a list of all your medications and their dosages and carry it with you at all times in case of emergencies or if a new doctor needs this information. It’s also recommended that you ask what each medication does and why the doctor is prescribing it for your own understanding. Finally, make sure you ask about how these medications might interfere with medications you are already taking.
2. Cope With Negative Feelings
Oftentimes after a heart attack, patients will experience a whole range of negative emotions. Fear, depression, anxiety, denial, and anger are all common reactions to physical trauma. Allow yourself time and space to process everything you’re feeling. Bottling up these emotions can lead to stress, which can slow your recovery and even further damage your health. Cardio rehab programs offer emotional support to cardiac patients suffering from anxiety and depression, in addition to offering education on how to improve your lifestyle to be more heart-healthy and providing opportunities for exercise paced to fit your recovery path. Most insurance companies cover rehabilitation programs for patients who have suffered heart attacks. Talk with your doctor or visit this website for information on rehabilitation opportunities near you.
3. Adopt a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Ensure your first heart attack is your last one by making small alterations to your lifestyle that protect and strengthen your heart. The American Heart Association (AMA) recommends adopting a diet low in saturated fat, sodium and sugary beverages and high in fruits, vegetables and high-fiber grains. In addition, the AMA also recommends incorporating fish into your diet at least twice a week, as there is evidence that people who eat fish regularly show lower instances of cardiovascular disease. In addition, work with your doctor to manage any prior conditions you might have that could put stress on your heart, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Finally, if you are a smoker, make every effort to quit and limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.
4. Gradually Become More Active
When you first come home from the hospital, you’ll probably feel very tired and weak. Make an effort to gradually become more active. Get out of bed and get dressed in the morning. Go on brief walks. Listen to your body, and don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t lift heavy things or strain yourself. Over time, you’ll regain your strength and be able to resume your daily activities. Make an effort to work physical activity into your daily routine, even if it’s just a daily brisk walk or bike ride. Activity makes your heart stronger and keeps it strong.
5. Check Up With Your Cardiologist
See your doctor or cardiologist a few weeks into your recovery for a check up. Your doctor will want to make sure you are making the necessary lifestyle changes to protect yourself and will be able to offer you advice and support during your recovery. Your doctor will also likely run some stress tests to identify any blockages that might require treatment. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve been experiencing any angina (chest pain), shortness of breath especially at low levels of exertion, dizziness or an irregular heartbeat during your recovery.
Suffering a heart attack can be a very frightening experience, but by taking action over your lifestyle choices and making your personal health your daily responsibility, you’ll quickly be able to resume doing the things you enjoy with the people you love while your body continues to heal.
Jason Kane is a professional blogger who is trying to be healthier this year. He currently writes for AEDs Today, a leading supplier of automatic external defibrillators including popular models such as LIFEPAK AEDS.