Over the last 30 years, the risk of death from a heart attack has dramatically decreased, now being around only three percent. Nevertheless, a heart attack is a life-changing event. Many people who suffer a heart attack feel scared, confused and overwhelmed. After treatment for a heart attack you receive a long list of instructions and information from your doctor. Navigating the road to recovery can be filled with uncertainty but doing everything you can to avoid future heart problems is essential. Here are five ways you can make prevention a priority.
- Take your medications as prescribed. Studies have shown that heart attack survivors who don’t fill their prescriptions are far more likely to die within a year than those who take their medications as prescribed. Adhering to your treatment and medication plan can reduce your chance of a second heart attack by 25 percent or more. If you unsure about anything related to your prescriptions, make sure to ask your doctor for more guidance.
- Go to your follow-up appointments. Going to your follow up appointments will help you and your doctor keep track of your condition and the progress of your recovery. Having your health and medications monitored is important for maintaining your heart health and longevity after a cardiac event.
- Ask about cardiac rehabilitation. The heart is a muscle, and after a heart attack, that muscle will need some help regaining its strength. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program that tailors exercise to your specific condition and abilities. Many cardiac rehab programs also provide information on a heart-healthy diet and provide resources and support for dealing with the psychological effects of having serious heart disease. According to Jagdeep Singh, MD, cardiologist, “30 to 60 minutes of regular aerobic exercise along with cardiac rehab is recommended as long as you’re feeling strong enough and you have medical clearance.”
- Get support. Feeling scared after a heart attack is normal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get support from loved ones who can help you cope. If you think that you’re suffering from depression after a heart attack, don’t ignore it. If you lose interest in people or activities you previously enjoyed, it may be a sign that you should seek help from a medical professional.
- Manage your risk factors. If you’re age 45 or older and you’ve had a heart attack, you’re around 20 percent more likely to have another heart attack within five years of your first. This is why it’s so important to manage your risk factors and make necessary lifestyle changes.
– If you smoke, it’s time to quit. Smoking is the worst thing you can do for your heart. Cutting back isn’t the answer either. Smoking just one cigarette a day increases the risk of heart attack by 50 percent in men and 75 percent in women.
– You should also watch your diet and make sure you’re getting active. Having a poor diet, not exercising and being overweight can all lead to type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension – major risk factors for heart disease. If you’re overwhelmed by making drastic dietary changes, consult with a registered dietitian who can help you develop a diet plan that works for your lifestyle.