Published on February 25, 2021

Life Changes After A Heart Attack

older couple walking on beach

Surviving a heart attack can be as scary as having one. Facing your own mortality by way of your heart betraying your body is life altering and will likely come with significant changes in your daily lifestyle to prevent a second heart attack from occurring. Statistically 20 percent of individuals will have another heart attack within five years of having the first, so it's important to follow the advice of your doctor carefully. Below are some things you can do the immediate days that follow to help you prepare for your future.

Medication Changes
Your doctor will likely prescribe medications that you will be taking for the rest of your life. These may include beta blockers, statins, and/or antiplatelet medications, which can help prevent clots from forming in your blood vessels, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. It's critical that you understand each of your medications and how and when to take them. If you have prescriptions that you were taking prior to your heart attack, they may be adjusted to accommodate your new medications. Your provider will determine the combination of medication that will work with your situation. Remember, these medications are vital for your health and you should never skip doses, change the frequency of use, or stop taking them without consulting your provider first.

Recognize the Symptoms
You've had a heart attack once, but do you know what to look out for if it happens again? Everyone in your family should be aware of the warning signs so they can get you immediate medical care. You should never wait to seek help if you are experiencing tightness in your chest, neck, back, or arms; fatigue, abnormal heartbeat, heartburn, or palpitations. Dial 9-1-1 immediately - every second counts.

Make Changes to Your Lifestyle
In some cases, individuals that have had a heart attack have other risk factors that increase their chances of having additional heart attacks. You'll want to meet with your doctor to discuss your family history, lifestyle, and diet. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol you need to ensure that you're managing your condition with proper medication and diet changes. Smoking also puts you at an increased risk, your doctor will be able to offer you resources for smoking cessation.

If you were previously neglecting your physical activity, find a workout routine that you like and that works for your lifestyle. Start slow - even walking 25 minutes a day can improve your heart health. Likewise, eating a healthy and nutritious diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help fuel your body properly. If you have trouble reading nutrition labels or need some advice as to what you should eat, then you may be referred to a registered dietitian, who can help you come up with a food plan. For diabetics, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising are critical to managing your disease and preventing further damage. A diabetes management program can also help you stay on track with your health and medications.

Cardiac Rehabilitation
A cardiac rehabilitation program can help reduce the risk of further damage to your heart and improve your quality of life. This medically supervised exercise program is specifically designed for you particular needs and will help you become stronger and improve your stamina. At Sturdy, this program will also include education to help you understand your condition and help you on your heart health journey.

To speak to a cardiologist, call our providers at Sturdy Cardiology Associates to make an appointment.