A heart attack can leave you with a traumatic experience along with strong mixed feelings of denial, anger, fear, anxiety, or depression. These are normal reactions which can affect not only you, but your family and co-workers too. This might not only make you concerned about your future, but also raise questions about your present health condition – be it the lifestyle changes you would have to make or a new diet you would have to follow. You and your family would probably have a lot of questions.
Here are a few tips on the ways to cope after a heart attack.
- Talk to your Doctor: Seek your doctor’s advice, he/she would be the right person to
not just ease your worries, but also guide you in the right direction. Tell
him/her about any episodes of anxiety or pain and discomfort. Re-collecting all
the instructions given by your doctor just after an attack may be overwhelming
initially. Don’t worry and don’t hesitate to ask all your doubts and if you
feel the need, do pen them down. Make sure to practice these instructions
- A small step at a time: After your discharge from the hospital, you will need to rest
and relax. Returning to all of your normal activities, including work, may take
a few weeks or 2 – 3 months, depending on your condition. During this time, try
to engage in some light form of exercise. You should slowly increase your level
of physical activity as advised by your doctor. Make sure that you do not
overdo your exercise. Try returning back to your daily activities bit by bit,
as being fully productive at your work can take time. Avoid stressful
situations at work and consider taking small breaks.
- Lifestyle changes: Recovering from a heart attack begins with making changes in your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes require setting up SMART goals. Your lifestyle changes should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-oriented (SMART). Talk to your nutritionist about the same. Include a heathy diet along with exercises recommended by your doctor. Take all your medications on time and as recommended by your doctor. Maintaining your weight would help keep a check on your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Overcoming your fear: Do not shy away from discussing the emotional aspects or
trauma you are facing; people usually describe as feeling a range of emotions
post an attack, including
• fear of having another heart attack
• loss of confidence
• irritability and short temperedness
All you need to do at this time, is to be positive. It takes time to tackle depression after an attack, so be strong and talk to your family members and healthcare provider. Consider your mental health as a part of your overall treatment plan. Always control your stress levels.
‘NO’ to Smoking: One of the major risk factors for heart disease is smoking.
Smoking can elevate your chances of having heart disease and worsen your
condition. It is very important to take care of your body, especially after an
attack. If you are a smoker, it is advisable to quit smoking as it would reduce
the risk of another heart attack by 50%.
- Regular Check-ups: A person who has had a history of a heart attack is always at
risk of future heart problems. Hence, it is vital to have regular check-ups
monitored by specialists. This would help make timely interventions in the
future alongside changes to your medicines, thereby reducing the risk of
another heart attack. Control your blood pressure, cholesterol and keep a check
on your Diabetes, while maintaining a proper weight.
- Cardiac-Rehabilitation: Cardiac rehabilitation programs are provided by many hospitals and clinics. They provide exercise programs, ways to reduce and cope with stress, information about your diet, sexual activity, the need for additional treatment, and other initiatives. This will also give you an opportunity to talk to other patients to share your concerns, problems, and feelings. People who have been through such programs often volunteer as instructors for new patients. This may help in giving you more insight and reassurance.
Your heart attack is a warning that your present lifestyle must be modified in order to survive. Begin by starting a makeover journey for your heart by making your physical and mental health your priority.