Heart Attack : FAQs
Myocardial infarction (mi): Heart attack 

 

What is the post treatment follow-up that is required?
Apart from medications and regular check-ups by a cardiologist, dietary and lifestyle changes are extremely important in maintaining health after a heart attack, in turn lowering the risks of another attack. The following precautions must be taken:-

Lifestyle
A smoker must quit the habit immediately since smoking considerably increases the probability of a repeat heart attack.

Regular aerobic exercise greatly enhances efforts to prevent or recover from heart attack. If you already have a heart condition, schedule a stress test before beginning an exercise program in order to determine how much exertion is safe. Heart attack survivors are advised to exercise with other people rather than alone during the first months of recovery. Many community health and recreation centers offer physician-supervised cardiovascular rehabilitation programs.

It is essential to avoid exercising in extremes of heat or cold, or immediately after meals

Mind/body medicine
Reducing stress by training the mind and body to relax may be one of the risk factors that you can control to help prevent heart attack and can aid in recovery. Many techniques promote relaxation, such as, meditation, biofeedback and yoga. Relaxation has also been shown to provide relief from pain, which may be encountered during the recovery period.

State of mind is another important consideration in heart attack recovery. People with a positive attitude about recovery tend to do much better than people who view themselves as "cardiac cripples." You may find that a particular mind/body technique helps you to focus on positive thoughts. You may also find, as many others have, that sharing thoughts and emotions with a support group is extremely beneficial.

Nutrition and Diet
The basic goals of a heart-healthy diet are to keep salt, sugar and saturated fat to a minimum so as to reduce cholesterol, control blood pressure and hold weight in check. Eating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, beans, bran, fish and dark green vegetables may help prevent heart attack. Magnesium protects the heart directly and indirectly, by stabilizing heart rate, reducing coronary artery spasm, and combating such conditions as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

Much evidence suggests that unstable chemical compounds known as free radicals make the body more vulnerable to heart attack by striking the heart and coronary arteries and promotingatherosclerosis. Free radicals can be neutralized by antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E. Fruits, vegetables and grains supply many of the antioxidant vitamins.

Eating root vegetables, such as carrots, may also help prevent heart attack. These vegetables lower cholesterol over the long term and reduce blood-clotting activity.

At least one-third of repeat heart attacks can be avoided by lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol levels. Therefore, the patient should keep a strict check on his saturated fat intake. It would be invaluable for him to maintain a record of hisLDL/HDL cholesterol ratio and the triglyceride level to enable him to measure his progress. The patient should aim to achieve LDL cholesterol of less than 100 mg by minimising or even eliminating animal fat from his dietary regimen. To attain HDL cholesterol level greater than 45 mg, he must reach and maintain a near-ideal body weight by diet and exercise such as walking and aerobics.

At-home remedies
Remember: Having a heart attack does not make you an invalid. You can best heal your heart by remaining active.

Do not take birth-control pills if you have had a heart attack; they are linked to increased blood-clotting activity.

Get a pet. Pet owners recover more quickly from heart attacks, probably because of reduced stress levels, and tend to live longer than people without pets. Just be sure to choose a pet that fits your lifestyle.

 

Next: What is the likely recovery period? 

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