Having a heart attack can leave you feeling worried and overwhelmed. It is also likely to encourage you to make positive lifestyle changes and become more focused on your health than ever before.
160,000 people die from heart disease every year, and it is a condition that tends to impact men more than women. If you have suffered from a heart attack and want to promote your heart health as much as possible, so that it doesn’t happen again, then here are some top tips and lifestyle changes that you can make.
One of the most important things that every person should try to do after suffering a heart attack is give up smoking. Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease and your risk of suffering a second heart attack will fall to half of that of a smoker 12 months after giving up.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there is support available. Nicotine patches and other substitutions can be particularly useful to help you stop smoking, especially in those early days when you are dealing with difficult cravings. They give your body the nicotine it craves without also filling your body with harmful chemicals. An online pharmacy can deliver these tools directly to your front door, making it easier to quit than ever before.
Attend Cardiac Rehabilitation
After your return home from hospital after your heart attack, you will be invited to attend cardiac rehabilitation. This is a 6 to 12-week course (depending on the severity of your condition and on your local NHS Trust policy) and will be held weekly at your local hospital. Whilst no one can force you to attend this rehabilitation, it is a wonderful way to learn more about looking after your heart after a heart attack, and a safe place to begin introducing exercise to your regular routine again.
Regular exercise is essential to maintaining heart health. Your heart is a muscle, and, like all muscles, it needs to be stretched in order to build vital strength. NHS guidelines suggest that you should enjoy 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Work with your rehabilitation team to build up to the level in order to promote positive heart health.
Improve Your Diet
If you eat a junk food heavy diet that is high in saturated fat, then now is the perfect time to reassess the types of food you eat. One of the easiest healthy eating rules to follow is to ensure that you get your 5 a day: that means eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. This can include fresh fruits and vegetables, tinned and frozen fruits and vegetables, and even dried fruits. Add vegetables to every meal, and you’ll quickly and easily increase the amount you eat.
The other essential diet change to make is to reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat. This will release the amount of cholesterol in your blood, lowering your risk of experiencing further heart disease. Choose leaner cuts of meat, and limit the amount of red meat that you eat. Make other small changes such as choosing lower fat dairy products like 1% fat milk over full-fat (or whole) milk. This small change will improve your overall heart health without impacting on the types of food you can enjoy.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Finally, having a heart attack can have a hugely negative impact on your emotional wellbeing. It can leave you feeling depressed and anxious, and a certain level of health-related PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is also not uncommon. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge these negative feelings, and to take the time to process them. After all, a heart effect is a life changing and traumatic event that is likely to impact every new decision you make. The impact on your family and friends should also not be underestimated. Take time out to talk about it, share your feelings and deal with them in a healthy, rounded way. This will ultimately improve your recovery and leave you feeling confident to move forward and move on with your new life.