Life After a Heart Attack
Recovering from a heart attack means changing your life in positive ways.
The changes don't just reduce your risk and fear of another heart attack; they can also make life healthier and more fun.
How can you move toward a healthier lifestyle? Experts advise implementing some of the strategies below.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, stop. Ask your provider about programs that can help.
- Exercise every day. Exercise strengthens your heart muscle so it can pump blood more easily and strengthens other muscles so the heart doesn't have to work so hard. It can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, decrease stress, decrease your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of dying from another heart attack.
Focus on aerobic exercise for an average of 40 minutes a day, three to four days a week. Aerobic exercise – the type that raises your heart rate – can be as easy as a brisk 30-minute walk. If walking is too difficult or painful, try riding a stationary bike or swimming.
No matter what activity you choose, start slowly and follow your physician's advice.
- Eat heart-healthy. Diet changes can help lower your cholesterol level, weight and blood pressure. Avoid food high in saturated fat, trans fat and high cholesterol. Instead, shift to a leaner diet that’s higher in fiber and lower in salt. That means more fruits and vegetables and less dairy, butter and red meat. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help.
- Take your medications. You may be taking medicine for your heart as well as for lowering cholesterol, controlling blood pressure or managing diabetes. Make sure you understand when and how to take your medicine, and take it correctly. Talk with your doctor if the medicine causes problems for you, but don't change or stop taking medication on your own.
- Reduce stress. Stress can increase your blood pressure, increase your heart rate and make your heart disease worse. If you are under stress from work or home, get advice on stress reduction techniques or see a counselor for suggestions on how you can reduce your stress or change your response to stressful situations.
Published on: April 29, 2016