Let’s face it; heart attack is one of the biggest cardiovascular problems in the US today. More than a whopping 790,000 people have a heart attack in the United States annually, with 580,000 being the first incident. If you crunch the numbers, you’ll find out that one American has a heart attack every 40 seconds. What’s even more troubling is that 1 in every five heart attacks in the US goes unnoticed because it shows virtually no signs. It’s known as a silent heart attack.
Why are heart attacks so rampant in the US? In America today, people are more stressed, busier, and more sedentary than ever before in the history of the country. Medically speaking, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), a cardiovascular condition that’s characterized by narrowed heart vessels, is the primary culprit for most heart attack cases.
“The biggest risk factors [for CAD] include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of physical activity, obesity, poor diet, and critically, genetic and family history,” says Simon Stertzer, M.D., one of the key pioneers of coronary angioplasty in the United States.
What to Expect After a Heart Attack
Once it’s clear that you’ve had a heart attack, the paramedics/EMT will take you directly to an Emergency Room. Depending on your age, medical history and the severity of your heart attack, there are a number of treatment options available to you:
1) Use of Medications
If it’s your first, non-serious heart attack, the chances are that the doctors will use medications such as blood thinners, ACE inhibitors, statins, beta blockers, narcotics, and other heart medications.
2) Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCI)
PCIs are non-surgical, non-invasive procedures designed to treat narrowing or blocked coronary arteries. These interventions include coronary angioplasty and coronary stent, which are some of the most effective treatments for cardiovascular conditions, including heart attack. While it’s safe and less painful than open heart surgery, PCI can lead to acute coronary artery perforation, which is an incident whereby the procedures cause a deep tear in the blood vessels. This is where a high-performance stent such as PK Papyrus can come in handy. It’s a newly FDA-approved ultrathin covered stent that’s designed to make acute coronary artery perforation a thing of the past.
3) Heart Surgery
Coronary heart bypass surgery is still widely used to treat a heart attack. The surgeon usually uses a healthy vein or artery to bypass a clogged coronary artery, therefore, restoring the flow of the blood to the heart. Of course, this option comes with its own fair share of benefits and drawbacks.
Often, you can expect to stay in the hospital for 3 days to a week or even longer if you develop any complications or have had bypass surgery. The likelihood of another heart attack occurring remain high in the first 24 to 48 hours. Coincidentally, this is a period when your condition will be most delicate and unstable. In this period, you’ll most likely stay in an acute medical ward or a coronary care unit (CCU).
Life after a Heart Attack: The Road to Recovery
Major advancements in cardiology and medicine in general have enabled us to understand a lot about the heart after a stroke or heart attack. The good news is that most Americans survive their first heart attack, and even go on to live a normal life. In fact, 90%-95% of those who reach the hospital survive. However, to resurge properly and enjoy a full life after a heart attack, there are some steps you need to take and crucial things that you need to know:
You’ll Feel Tired
Don’t be surprised if feel tired and weak after a heart attack. That’s why you need to keep visits and interactions with others brief. More importantly, eat light as recommended by your physicians because your heart cannot handle any hard-work.
It’s Important to Participate in a Cardiac Rehab Program
It’s crucial that you join a good cardiac rehab program 1-2 weeks after being discharged from the healthcare facility. This is a program that’ll help you make dietary changes, cultivate a safe exercise/workout routine and stay on top of your recovery after a heart attack. You’ll also get coached on how to make crucial lifestyle changes. It’s often a 3-hour per week program so it won’t eat too much into your recovery time.
Know and Stick to your Medication Plan
Before you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll notice that changes will be made to your medication in terms of dosage and type of drugs. In fact, you’ll go home with a bagful of medications. That’s why it’s paramount that you talk to your doctor about these medications. Know their names, their side effects, and how & when to take them. More crucially, stick to your meds no matter the speed of your recovery.
Have Someone Around
The first few weeks after a heart attack are always tricky. You might not be out of the woods when it comes to another heart attack happening. That’s why it is best that you arrange to stay with a relative, friend or someone close to you.
Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
After a heart attack, the odds are that you’ll feel certain emotions like denial, depression, fear or anxiety. These might last between 60 days and 6 months. Don’t ignore them because they can impact on your work, family life, and even your ability to stick to your exercise routine. Even worse, post-heart attack stress can affect your overall recovery. If that’s the case, seek necessary mental health intervention.
Embrace a Heart-Healthy Diet
A good-for-your-heart diet is one that’s rich in veggies and fruits, low in sodium, has no processed meats, contains plenty of dietary fiber, loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, low in unhealthy fats, and comprises less than 36 ounces of sugar. Consult with a dietician to get it right from day 1.
Treat Hypertension and High Cholesterol
High levels of LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure damage your coronary arteries. If left untreated for long, both of these can increase your risk of cardiovascular complications.
Make Lifestyle Changes
There are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to reduce risk factors for another heart attack, stroke or heart disease. These include:
- Stop Smoking – you can use nicotine patches, gums or other prescriptions to curb your addiction.
- Embrace Healthcare Technologies: invest in a quality smartwatch or fitness band. These are fitted with gamified apps that can help boost your physical activity and therefore reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. According to Digital Authority Partners, healthcare tech like mHealth can help you transform your lifestyle and keep heart disease at bay.
- Exercise More: Workouts can help you lose weight and beat risk factors like obesity.
- Reduce stress: cut back on stressors like work
- Be Active – take stairs, walk whenever possible, and whatnot.
This guest post comes from JGBilling, one of Chicago’s top medical billing outsourcing companies