Surviving a heart attack can be emotionally draining, but as a survivor, your priority should be to keep your health in top shape and prevent another heart attack. According to Dr Sundeep Mishra, Cardiologist at AIIMS, most people can go on to live a happy, healthy life after their first heart attack, provided they adopt a healthy approach towards life.
Dr Mishra adds a few tips to this mini-guide on living a healthy life after suffering a heart attack.
1. Tracking your medicines:
“Initially, your doctor may prescribe certain blood-thinning medicines that will prevent clot formation in the blood vessels. Be aware of your prescription and follow it diligently,” he says. Let your family members also keep track of your medication. Don’t skip your follow-up appointments, as they will help you track your heart health in a better way.
2. Healthy eating:
The three major risk factors (diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension) of heart attack stem from poor eating habits. Here are some diet modifications as suggested by Dr Mishra:
- Cut down the intake of salt to control hypertension
- Eliminate sugary, fatty and processed foods from your diet to control diabetes and cholesterol levels
- Switch to a diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains
- Stop the intake of vanaspati ghee and desi ghee completely
- Lower the amount of oil in your diet. It is best to alternate between two different types of oils
- Avoid eating red meat. You can consume fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Exercising the right way:
“Some patients avoid physical activity in any form after suffering a heart attack, due to the fear of possibly suffering another one. But, that should not happen. Remember that complete bed rest is only going to delay your recovery process. On the other hand, over-exercising and exertion should also be avoided. Consult your doctor before you begin exercising. Avoid weightlifting and bodybuilding exercises. You could start with simple exercises like walking and swimming, along with some stretching exercises,” Dr Mishra adds.
4. Avoiding alcohol intake:
According to Dr Mishra, there are studies conducted in the western population that suggest alcohol intake in moderation might be good for heart health; however, there is no study that suggests the same for the Indian population. So, it would be best to discuss with your doctor what is good for your heart.
5. Quitting tobacco:
Continuing to smoke after a heart attack is just going to take you closer to another one, Dr Mishra suggests. Not just smoking, tobacco intake in any form should be discontinued. In addition, stay away from spaces where you could inhale smoke passively, as it could be equally dangerous for your heart health.
6. Addressing emotional health:
Dr. Mishra also talks about how surviving a heart attack can affect your emotional well-being, which is quite natural. It can trigger a loss of appetite, anxiety, social withdrawal, fear of being active, and even depression, in some cases. Don’t ignore these problems and be willing to take help at the right time. Discuss your emotional state with your doctor and be open for counselling sessions that facilitate rehabilitation.