Preventing a second heart attack
May 8, 2017
Recovering from a heart attack will take time. There are emotional and physical reactions to deal with at first. A huge part of the recovery is embracing lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy heart and prevent recurrence. It take immense dedication to change habits, but the effort it takes to bounce back from another heart attack is much greater!
Your role as “partner-in-care.” You cannot force your loved one to make the needed changes and nagging them will not help. Encourage your loved one to talk about what they look forward to, for example with quitting cigarettes: no more smoking in the cold outside and better-tasting food.
Small steps. Help to identify which change seems to the easiest to start with and begin there to gradually build up.
To improve recovery and prevent a recurrence, support your loved one to:
• make a follow-up appointment. It is critical that your loved one sees their doctor soon after a heart attack. You want to confirm the medications prescribed are the correct combination.
• take medications as directed. Make sure that you both understand the new medications. Additional drugs may be needed to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
• adopt heart-healthy habits. The “heart-healthy ABCs” are Avoid tobacco. Become more active. Choose good nutrition.
• engage in a cardiac rehab program. This is medically supervised exercise which also includes learning healthy techniques to manage stress. Medicare does pay for these recovery services.
• get support. Not only for your loved one but for you as the caregiver too. Ask for local support groups or check out the online
community at heart.org/heartattackrecovery.
• It will take a while to recover. Having patience, understanding, and following directions is the best way for everyone to reduce the chance of a repeat attack.