Okay, so you have survived a heart attack. I am truly happy for you. However, for going forward you need to follow some guidelines that will help you to avoid the next episode. By following specific lifestyle and diet suggestions, you will reduce the chance of another heart attack by enhancing your overall health and well-being.
Recovering from a heart attack can take several months, and it’s very important not to rush your rehabilitation.During your recovery period, you’ll receive help and support from a range of healthcare professionals like Consultant Cardiologist, nurses, physical therapists, dietitians and exercise specialists. These healthcare professionals will support you physically and mentally to ensure that your recovery is conducted in a safe manner.
The most important parts of the recovery process are as follows:
Your cardiac rehabilitation program will begin while you’re still in the hospital. A member of your cardiac rehabilitation team should visit you in the hospital and provide detailed information about your state of health and how the heart attack may have affected it; the type of treatment you received; what medications you’ll need ;when you leave the hospital; what specific risk factors have contributed to your heart attack; and what lifestyle changes you can make to address those risk factors.
Once you return home, it’s usually recommended that you rest and only do light activities, such as walking up and down the stairs a few times a day or taking a short walk. You can gradually increase the amount of activity you do each day over several weeks.
Your rehabilitation program should contain different exercises, depending on your age and ability.
Returning to work
Every person can return to work after a heart attack, but how quickly will depend on your health, the state of your heart and the kind of work you do. If your job involves light duties you may be able to return to work in as little as two weeks. However, if your job involves heavy manual work or your heart is extensively damaged, then it may take several months before you can resume your duties.
You may be able to drive after one week. However, you should be cleared by your doctor in case there are other conditions or complications that would disqualify you from driving.
Having a heart attack can be frightening and traumatic, and it’s common to have feelings of anxiety afterward. For many people, the emotional stress can cause them to feel depressed and tearful for the first few weeks after returning home. If feelings of depression persist, speak to your doctor, because you may have a more serious form of depression. It’s important to seek advice because serious types of depression often don’t get better without treatment.
It’s recommended that you eat two to four portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish contain a type of fatty acid known as omega-3, which can help to lower your cholesterol levels.
Good sources of omega-3 include :
It’s also recommended that you eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This means eating more fruit, vegetables and fish,but less meat. Replace butter and cheese with products based on vegetable and plant oil, such as olive oil.
If you smoke, it’s strongly recommended that you quit as soon as possible. If you were a smoker, your doctor may be able to offer suggestions on remaining smoke-free for the rest of your life. Your doctor can also recommend and prescribe medication to help you give up cigarettes.
It is wise to limit your overall alcohol intake to allow your body to get strong and recover well. Eventually, some alcohol in moderation is okay.
If you’re overweight or obese, it’s recommended that you lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight by using a combination of exercise and diet.
Regular physical activity
Once you’ve made a sufficient physical recovery from the effects of a heart attack, it’s recommended that you engage in physical activity on a regular basis. The level of activity should be strenuous enough to leave you slightly breathless. Start at a level you feel comfortable with (for example, 5-10 minutes of light exercise a day) and gradually increase the duration and intensity as your fitness improves.
6 Tips for sticking to your Recovery Plan
Take it one step at a time
1—Your Action Plan may include some changes to your lifestyle, from diet to exercise to stress reduction. Don’t feel like that you must tackle it all at once. It’s difficult to change too many things at once. Conquer one thing, then move on to the next.
2—Always talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
Set achievable goals. If you need to lose weight, don’t think about losing 50 pounds – focus on the first five. If you’re just starting a workout plan, it’s probably not realistic to think you’ll be running miles in weeks. The key is to find what works for you.
A heart-healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. You can – and should – go out to dinners, attend parties, and take vacations. Just do a little planning ahead. Technology has made it easier than ever. Food Tripping and Map My Walk are two apps that can help.
5—Build a support system.
Don’t feel like you must do it alone. Build a support system of friends, family, and co-workers – they can help you keep going.Of course one of the most important supporters is your Heart Specialist. Be sure to get regular checkups and ask questions. There are also online support groups as well as local support groups. Take advantage of them.
6—Make new (healthy) habits.
Ever wonder why it’s easier to stick to bad habits than good ones? Unhealthy habits normally give you instant gratification. But you pay for it later. Healthy habits, on the other hand, may take longer to pay off – but the rewards are bigger and better.
Everyone who experiences a heart attack faces challenges. Any guidance or advice you receive should be tailored to your specific needs.
Take care of your heart—and your heart will take care of you.