What to Expect After Surviving a Heart Attack

Despite being the number 1 killer of men and women in the U.S., many people are fortunate enough to survive a heart attack.

Perhaps the hardest part of this is adopting a new lifestyle when returning home–like switching out old bad habits for new, healthier ones.

In this post, we’ll look at what you can expect in the ensuing weeks and months after your loved one returns home from a heart attack, compiled from a list from the Cleveland Clinic. Hint: There’s a lot of medication and doctors visits involved. Note that it takes about two months for the heart to heal.

Activity

It’s typical for a person to feel tired or weak during the first week of recovery at home. This is due to the damage your heart muscle has suffered, paired with the bed rest at the hospital.

  • Take it easy. Make sure your loved one isn’t over-exerting himself. A change in routine might be in store to pace strenuous activities throughout the day.
  • Walk every day to regain strength and energy. The doctor will prescribe the right amount of exercise your loved one will need.
  • Once your loved one feels stronger, they may return to light household chores (folding laundry, cooking, dusting, etc.). However, they should avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects unless given the go ahead from the doctor.
  • The doctor will also tell you when more vigorous activities are OK, such as driving or returning to work.

Diet

One of the most important elements of a healthy recovery is diet. Not only does it promote heart health, it also prevents future complications of heart disease.

  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Be choosy when it comes to calories from fat.
  • Eat just the right amount of protein from various sources.
  • Keep an eye on cholesterol.
  • Reduce intake of simple carbohydrates and use complex carbs for energy.
  • Reduce sodium intake and increase intake of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Medication

People with heart disease should expect to take some form of heart medication for the rest of their lives. Medication is prescribed after a heart attack for various reasons:

  • Prevent future blood clots
  • Lessen the work of the heart to improve the hearts performance and recovery
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Control angina
  • Treat irregular heartbeats and heart failure

Make sure you review your loved ones medications with a doctor or nurse. Also, keep a list of the medications (including what they’re for) to bring along to future visits to the doctor.

Lifestyle changes

Sadly, there is no cure for coronary artery disease (brought on by a heart attack). To prevent the spread of this disease, a number of lifestyle changes must be made. Ask your doctor for more information.

  • Stop smoking
  • Lower high blood cholesterol
  • Control high blood pressure
  • Maintain tight diabetes control
  • Follow a regular exercise plan
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Control stress and anger

A person’s life is forever changed once they have a heart attack. Still, even with a difficult road to recovery, it’s possible to eventually lead a normal life again. As long as your loved one is willing to follow doctor’s orders to make the necessary changes to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, they should be right on track for a full recovery.

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