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World Heart Day 2019: What To Do After You Have Suffered A Heart Attack

A heart attack is a life-threatening condition in which the blood supply to the heart suddenly stops, usually caused by a blood clot. Surviving from a heart attack depends on the severity of the condition and how quickly it is treated. Once you have survived a heart attack, knowing what to do during the recovery process will prevent you from future heart attacks.

What Happens In The First Few Days After A Heart Attack

  • The first 24-48 hours after a heart attack, your health will be unstable.
  • You are put in a coronary care unit (CCU), a specialised intensive care unit for heart patients.
  • Your blood sugar levels are checked.
  • Due to a heart attack, other health conditions can develop, like your heart may not be able to pump blood properly throughout the body.
  • You feel very tired.

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What You Should Do After You Go Home

The recovery process starts after you get home, which includes indulging in physical activity, following a healthy diet and controlling other risk factors.

Indulge in a physical activity

After you have suffered a heart attack, exercising is important to maintain your weight and also to keep your muscles functioning properly, especially the heart muscles.

Any form of exercise like swimming, running, walking, bicycling and jogging will help in pumping the blood to all parts of the body. According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, exercising after a heart attack elevates the amount of oxygen circulation in the body and also strengthen the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body [1] .

Note: Seek your doctor's advice before performing any exercise.

Follow a healthy diet

To prevent the risk of future heart attacks, consuming a low-fat and low-calorie diet is necessary. Avoid eating foods that are loaded with saturated fats and trans fats, as they contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Clogged arteries can prevent the flow of blood to the heart, resulting in a heart attack.

Eating a plant-based diet will improve your heart health and keep it healthy. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, consuming a plant-based diet will reduce the risk of heart disease compared to animal-based diet [2] .

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Quit smoking

If you have been smoking, you should consider quitting it. Smoking increases the chances of heart disease and also it makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood and function optimally.

Control other risk factors of heart attack

Most heart attacks are caused due to poor lifestyle choices and to prevent future heart attacks. To ensure a better recovery, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you monitor your cardiac risk factors.

The possible risk factors are as follows:

  • Blood cholesterol under 180 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure lower than 130/80 mmHg
  • Blood glucose under 100 mg/dL (during times of normal fasting)
  • Body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9
  • Waist circumference lower than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

FAQs About Recovery After Heart Attack

Q. How soon can you return to regular activities?

A. It depends on the condition of your heart. It's also important that you speak to your doctor when you can be active again and what exercises you should do. Start slowly to give your heart a chance to heal.

Q. When can you resume work?

A. Again, it depends on your heart health and how active and stressful your work life is. If your job is stressful, you will have to switch to another job or find other ways to deal with stress.

Q. Can you drive after a heart attack?

A. Most people can drive after 1 week, however, talk to your doctor before you start driving again.

Q. Can you have sex after a heart attack?

A. Most people can resume sexual activity 2 to 3 weeks after having a heart attack if there are no serious complications.

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View Article References
  1. [1] Sarah-Lena Puhl, Andreas Müller, Michael Wagner, Yvan Devaux, Michael Böhm, Daniel R. Wagner, Christoph Maack.Exercise attenuates inflammation and limits scar thinning after myocardial infarction in mice.American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2015; 309 (2): H345
  2. [2] Kim, H., Caulfield, L. E., Garcia‐Larsen, V., Steffen, L. M., Coresh, J., & Rebholz, C. M. (2019). Plant‐Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All‐Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle‐Aged Adults. Journal of the American Heart Association.

Read more about: heart attack post recovery health
Story first published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 19:00 [IST]
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