Heart disease : After a heart attack, life continues

Many people have perished from a heart attack in the past. Today however, thanks to numerous medical advances, many are those who survive. Suffering a heart attack is nevertheless a determining event that leads many people to modify various aspects of their life. Although some changes are inevitable, notably having to take medications, others are of a much more personal nature. In spite of it all, it is indeed possible to resume a normal life after such an event, especially when you make positive changes in your lifestyle habits.

After a heart attack, life continues Many people have perished from a heart attack in the past. Today however, thanks to numerous medical advances, many are those who survive. Suffering a heart attack is nevertheless a determining event that leads many people to modify various aspects of their life. Although some changes are inevitable, notably having to take medications, others are of a much more personal nature. In spite of it all, it is indeed possible to resume a normal life after such an event, especially when you make positive changes in your lifestyle habits.

Changing our lifestyle habits to live a better life The mortality risk remains high for patients during the first year following a heart attack. Why? This is partly due to the fact that certain underlying factors that lead to a heart attack, such as smoking and hypertension, remain mostly unchanged. This is why it is essential we modify certain lifestyle habits.

· We are all well aware that tobacco has numerous harmful effects on the heart. After a heart attack, quitting smoking increases our chances of living a longer and healthier life. If you are a smoker, consult a health professional to arm yourself with the tools that will increase your chances of becoming smoke-free. · Too much stress is also harmful to the heart. After a heart attack, you should try to find ways to keep stress to a minimum, and to better manage the stress in your life. · Whether you have suffered a heart attack or are perfectly healthy, alcoholic beverages are to be consumed in moderation. Experts recommend not exceeding 2 glasses per day, for a maximum of 14 glasses per week, for men, and 1 glass per day, for a maximum of 9 glasses per week, for women. · Extra weight wears down the heart in addition to contributing to problems of hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and diabetes. It is therefore recommended we reach and maintain a healthy body weight. · A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish, and low in saturated fats and cholesterol, keeps our arteries healthy and contributes in maintaining a healthy body weight.

It can be very difficult to change everything in one fell swoop! Instead, why not fix realistic goals and enlist the support of health professionals and your loved ones. And make a habit of keeping all appointments with your physician!

Get active and live a better life Regular physical activity is a central component in recovering from a heart attack. Not only does exercise improve the functioning of the heart, it also contributes in preventing a second heart attack by helping us reach and maintain our healthy body weight. It also helps us manage diabetes, lower our blood cholesterol and blood pressure. In fact, patients who are active also live longer than those who are sedentary.

Even if you have never exercised a day in your life, it is never too late to start! However, once you have received your physician’s approval, it is very important you start being active gradually. There are specialized programs to help patients get back in shape that are exclusively devoted to individuals who have suffered a heart attack, and those suffering from other cardiovascular diseases. If such a program does not exist in your area, ask your physician or pharmacist to suggest activities that are compatible with your physical condition. Walking and swimming are usually good choices for most people.

Nevertheless, if you feel a tightening in your chest, pain in your back or abdomen, dizziness or unusual fatigue, you should slow down your pace and speak with your health professional at once.

Drugs and medications Following a heart attack, physicians usually prescribe five medications that act in various ways to decrease your risk of having another heart attack, and to help with your recovery. If you have never taken medication, taking five all of a sudden can undoubtedly be quite frightening, but it is a normal reaction. You should be aware however that patients who do not take their medications, or do not take them correctly, double their risk of dying, compared to those who follow their prescriptions to the letter.

You should question your health professionals on the purpose of each medication. You should also make sure you know how to take them correctly, and that, from the very beginning of your treatment. If you feel any discomfort or if you have any questions, you should speak with your pharmacist. He or she can also provide you with tips on how to take your medications exactly as prescribed.

How is your mood? Having had a heart attack can be a traumatic experience: you can fear no longer being able to do your favourite activities, not being able to work again…or of having another heart attack. If you are experiencing these emotions, do not ignore them! Not only can they delay your recovery, they can also have a great impact on your relationships with loved ones, as well as other areas of your life.

Although it is quite normal to feel worried in the weeks following such a life-altering event, these emotions generally disappear as your health improves, and you gradually return to your regular daily activities. However, if these emotions persist or worsen with time, it is essential you speak with a health professional, or someone close to you. There are excellent support systems available to patients who have suffered a heart attack. You should not hesitate to take advantage of them!

Having sex after a heart attack Many people fear not being able to get back to a normal sex life after having had a heart attack. Yet, most can resume their sexual activities once they have recovered. Speak with your physician to determine when you will be ready to get back into it! Do not hesitate to question your physician if you are experiencing sexual difficulties. They can be related to your physical condition or, at times, to your medications. The most important thing is to talk about it because, after all, there usually are solutions to most problems.

In conclusion Although it is sometimes difficult to modify our lifestyle habits, we should always remember that we will benefit from doing so in the long term. The success of your recovery after a heart attack greatly depends on you: the more positive changes you make in your life, the greater your chances of a successful recovery, so you can start living an active life that mirrors who you are! However, you should remember that it is better to integrate these changes gradually, than to try and change everything at once and get discouraged in the process.

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