Life After a Heart Attack

Relief that you survived your heart attack is followed by waves of thoughts and emotions. You may have questions about your recovery and worry about how to prevent a second heart attack. Sometimes you’ll feel ready to get back to your life, and other times you’ll feel weak, exhausted, and depressed.

The first thing to know is that these ups and downs are experienced by everyone after a heart attack. Throughout your recovery, you can depend on compassionate care from Dr. Laura Fernandes and the team at Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute. They help you navigate all your concerns and fully support your recovery.

Recovering from a heart attack is a journey you take at your own pace, yet everyone needs to take similar steps as they look forward to life after their heart attack. 

Our team shares the four key things you can do during your recovery.

1. Participate in cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab is a structured program to improve your heart health after a heart attack. Your rehab is customized, but all programs include exercise counseling, education to improve your health, and stress management.

We can refer you to a formal cardiac rehab program, but can also help design an individualized rehab plan. As part of your long-term support team, we’re here to answer questions, talk about ways to prevent stress, and promote your full rehabilitation and recovery.

2. Follow your medication schedule

After a heart attack, medications support your heart and lower the risk of future problems. When it comes to heart medications, nothing is more important than taking them exactly as prescribed. Following your medication schedule is the only way to be sure you get the full benefits.

Though there are many reasons people stop taking their medications, side effects are often at the top of the list. If you have any problems, talk with us before you stop taking your meds. We can find solutions that protect your heart without unwanted side effects.

We also offer medication management, which means we review all your medications from every doctor to be sure you’re not at risk for harmful drug interactions.

3. Make healthy lifestyle changes

The good news about your heart is that it responds well to a healthy lifestyle. After a heart attack, lifestyle changes pave the way to an optimal recovery.

The key elements include following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, losing weight, and stopping smoking if needed. These issues are included in a cardiac rehab program, but if you don’t join a formal program, you still need to make the appropriate changes. 

Lifestyle changes shouldn’t add to your stress. We help you start out slowly and go at a pace that’s safe for your health.

4. Seek help for emotional ups and downs

Most people experience a range of emotions after a heart attack. You may expect to worry or feel scared about having another heart attack, but your emotions probably won’t stop there.

You may also be surprised at the strength of the emotions you feel. It’s important to know that all your feelings, from depression and anxiety to anger and sadness, are a natural response to the extreme stress of a heart attack.

Staying connected with friends and family — and talking with them about your feelings — can be a big help. But if you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, or deep depression and anxiety affect your ability to engage in your recovery, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.

If you have questions about life after a heart attack, call Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute or book an appointment with us online.

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