Life After Heart Attack: Tips on How to Stay Healthy

AllsWell Team

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About 17.9 million people die from cardiovascular diseases globally. Out of these, 85% are caused by heart attacks. Cardiologists say that heart attacks are a life-changing experience for most patients, many of whom have no idea what to do after a heart attack.

The road to recovery from a massive heart attack is sure to be steep. It is mentally and physically draining. But, if you can sail through that healing process, you'll come out a changed and empowered person.

However, you must also be willing to go that extra mile to maintain a healthy life after a heart attack: get into cardiac rehab, take medications, adopt regular exercise, and other heart-healthy habits.

In this article, we'll walk you through all the steps and actions necessary to nourish a healthy lifestyle after a heart attack. 

What Does Life Look Like After a Heart Attack?

Life after a heart attack can be scary and depressing, especially for patients without a solid support system. 

According to the American Heart Association, one in five people are readmitted to the hospital for a second heart attack less than five years after the first. 

For many people, life after a heart attack is different than they expected.

A heart attack can leave a person feeling drained and weak. Some people find they can't do the things they used to, like climb stairs or walk long distances. Others have trouble breathing and experience pain in their chest.

Following a heart attack, many people need to make significant changes to their lifestyle. This might include diet, exercise, and medication. It's important to follow your doctor's advice closely to help reduce the risk of another heart attack.

Work and Regular Activities?

How soon you can return to normalcy after hospitalization depends on your daily routines and heart condition. The good news is it's possible to return to everyday life within your heart attack recovery time. However, your doctor must approve it.

Work, Driving, Exercise, and Sex?

Immediate recovery is definitely not what to expect after a heart attack. Physically and mentally draining activities demand a lot of strength, which you may not have immediately after suffering a heart attack. 

So, before you get into any physically demanding activity, consult with your doctor first. Most people return to driving in about a week after an attack. Conditions vary, and this doesn't always apply to every patient.

When it comes to sex, cardiologists generally recommend a 2-3 week period within your heart attack recovery time. The same goes for most other activities, which means taking things slowly.

What Happens Immediately After a Heart Attack

A heart attack can be a frightening experience, and it's natural to have many questions about what happens next. What to expect after a mild heart attack differs significantly from what to expect after a massive attack. But, generally, here is a brief overview of what happens after a heart attack.

In the minutes and hours after a heart attack, the most important thing is to get medical help. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or nausea, call 911 right away. Do not drive yourself to the hospital – let the paramedics take you.

The doctors will work to stabilize you at the hospital and start treatment. It may involve medications to break up the clot that caused the heart attack, as well as treatments to restore blood flow to your heart.

You may also need surgery to repair any heart damage, including a bypass surgery or a procedure to place a stent in your artery.

Other treatments involve being immediately taken to the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

Heart catheterization, otherwise known as coronary angiography, is a medical procedure that allows the doctor to evaluate your heart function. Coronary artery disease is often responsible for the attacks.

With that in mind, how long can you live after a heart attack? Only a doctor can determine how long to recover from a heart attack. The total heart attack recovery time varies from person to person.

How to Recover From a Heart Attack

“A heart attack is a serious event, but most patients can return to a good quality of life afterward.” Dr. Grant Reed, Cleveland Clinic interventional cardiologist

Of the 805,000 heart attacks reported in the U.S, about 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack. Complete recovery from a first heart attack minimizes the chances of a second attack. 

You can't always tell what happens after a heart attack. However, meaningful recovery requires consistent effort and medical follow-up.

According to cardiologists, here is what to do to ensure your recovery from a massive heart attack.

  1. Commit to Cardiac Rehabilitation

After a heart attack, you will join a cardiac rehabilitation program designed to smoothen your recovery and accelerate your return to normalcy. It can also reduce your heart attack recovery time by teaching important lessons about stress management, mental health practices, weight management, nutrition exercise, and other risk reduction practices.

  1. Stay in Close Contact With Your Doctors

Experts advise keeping close contact with your doctors to help deal with any health issues after heart attacks. The goal is to monitor and guide you through recovery while reducing the chances of a second attack.

The visit frequency may vary, but most patients see cardiologists once every three months within the first year after an attack. They then reduce the frequency to once every six months for the second year and only once a year afterward.

  1. Take Your Medications

Battling a heart attack is incomplete without some medication to heal wounds, increase hormones, and provide other essential nutrients to your body. Take your medicine consistently to manage any health issues after heart attacks.

  1. Commit to Regular Exercise

If you're thinking about how to keep heart healthy after a heart attack, regular exercise is a good place to start. Regular cardio exercise, walking, jogging, running, or swimming will build your heart muscles and make your heart stronger. Exercise also lowers your cholesterol level and blood pressure. 

Regular exercise is also great for stress relief and a healthy body mass index (BMI). However, don't forget to speak to your doctor before you return to any form of physical activity. 

  1. Eat Healthy Foods

After a cardiac arrest, you must eat “heart-healthy.” Food affects your cardiovascular health and blood flow. That's why meals with high levels of unwanted fats (saturated and trans fats) can cause unhealthy buildups in your arteries. These buildups impede smooth blood flow and can lead to a heart attack over time.

Eat more fruits and vegetables as they are low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Some fish and poultry foods are also recommended, while limiting red and processed meats. Also, reduce your salt, sweet, and dairy intake.

  1. Quit Smoking

Here's what not to do after a heart attack: smoking cigarettes, cannabis, or other drugs. Smoking endangers your heart, increases your heart attack recovery time and the risk of a second attack.

Seek professional help if you're having trouble eliminating this bad habit.

How the AllsWellAlert App Can Help

Your elderly loved ones are more susceptible to heart attacks in older age. That's why you need an emergency response system that helps monitor seniors while you're away. The AllsWellAlert app keeps an eye on your loved ones wherever they are.

Unlike ordinary personal emergency response devices that users have to carry around, the AllsWell Alert app runs smoothly on every mobile phone. In an emergency, such as a heart attack, your loved ones can set off an alert by tapping the panic button.

The app also monitors its user's inactivity. This is life-saving when a user cannot hit a panic button.

At this point, you know what to do after a heart attack. Installing AllsWell Alert is one of the steps.

Download it with a 30-day free trial now.

Final Thoughts

Life after a heart attack is undeniably challenging, and we hope that you now understand what to do after a heart attack. It's essential to take care of yourself and allow yourself time to recover both physically and emotionally. With patience and support, you can get back to living a full and healthy life.

 

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