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Recovering From a Heart Attack. What to Expect

Working in work, health and safety has allowed me to develop a wide range of knowledge and experience around wellbeing and health topics

Finding your feet after a heart attack can be hard, but it isn't impossible

Finding your feet after a heart attack can be hard, but it isn't impossible

Where To From Here? What's Next In My Life?

It has been hard for me to come to terms with the fact I had a heart attack. When it happened it was a massive shock. I never thought that in my early thirties, I would suffer a heart attack.

Don't get me wrong I wasn't super healthy at the time, but I wasn't super unhealthy either.

For me, my heart attack was trigger by a virus, that inflamed the muscle and surrounds of my heart and triggered a myocardial infarction. It did highlight that I have a blocked artery, but this was left untreated as my body had already rerouted blood flow around the issue to make up the difference.

The difference not being enough when the virus hit and took most everything I had.

I once heard, I believe it was on a TV show, that most are likely to survive their first cardiac incident of this kind, but I can tell you from experience that it doesn't feel like you will at the time. I'm sure most people will likely recover with very few issues.

For me, it wasn't the smoothest of rides, but it was the worst either and now I feel for the most part that I am returning to a more normal version of my life, with a few changes.

Finding your path after an illness can be hard. It can also be rewarding if you let it.

Finding your path after an illness can be hard. It can also be rewarding if you let it.

The Aftermath - Time to Get Back on the Right Track

After having a heart attack depending on the seriousness of the event you will likely find that you will be stuck in the hospital from any between 2 to 7 after your heart attack.

This is without there being any particular issues or whether it is necessary for you to have bypass surgery or not. Those puppies aren't taken lightly and require a bit of work to get back on your feet.

Whilst in the hospital you will very likely have to go through getting your medications sorted. This is all about making sure that your heart isn't going to incur any more damage and stabilize your blood pressure and other vitals.

So with this will come changes not only to the combination of medications that they will have you on but they will also change when you take them. basically trying to find the best routine that suits your particular situation.

One of the first things you may notice in the hospital is that your medication routine might change. The doctor might make adjustments to your dosage or the number of medicines you take. The will probably put you on new medications, too.

These will treat and control your symptoms and the things that led to your heart attack in the first place. For me, it was being placed on Atorvastatin to ensure that my cholesterol stays below even the average level that most people have.

Statins are the worst for me as they tend to give me the most annoying side effects like tiredness and muscle pain.

It is really just so important that you take this time to get as much information from your doctors and specialists as you can at this point in time.

Ask all of the questions that you need to no matter how stupid you might think they are at the time. Make sure that you are clear on what you are taking when you are taking it and any side effects that you might encounter.

Your brain might be a bit muddled at the moment but try not to worry too much. I found it helped me to ask questions whenever I could and to learn what about what is going on and what the medicines they were giving me do and why the hell I needed to take them.

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What You May Feel!

The next thing you have to get your head around is your feelings and how your emotions will have changed after having your heart attack. You will likely want to withdraw from everything thing but don't. It is imperative that you take note of your emotions.

After getting through the initial heart attack, I had to be told that it was normal to get the feels. That fear, anxiety, and depression were normal reactions. This changed outlook will likely last for anywhere from a few months to a half a year or so. For me, it was the later.

My brain would often fog over and I would find myself almost detached from my life. Metoprolol was used to control my blood pressure but it also made me feel like a space cadet half of the time, and it still occasionally does.

These feelings might also change your daily life, but you should seek some assistance from your doctor or speak with a specialist if it has massive effects on your ability to exercise or participate in things on a daily basis or if it affects your ability to communicate and be with your family and friends. It is very important that you let your family know what is going on with you so that they can help support you through this time.

Your strength will return. You just have to be a little patient and be aware of your limits.

Your strength will return. You just have to be a little patient and be aware of your limits.

Cardiac Rehab or Cardiac Clinic - Getting Back on Your Feet

Many hospitals and medical centers run a program to help people that have suffered from cardiac-related illnesses or incidences.

I participated in one at my local medical center and it was just the thing to make me feel more connected with people and get a better idea of what to expect now.

It also had the benefit of allowing me to exercise with healthcare professionals in attendance which were great for allowing me to get my confidence back so that I didn't feel like I was going to drop dead for walking too fast... But seriously your brain will try to psych you out, don't let it.

This is a perfect opportunity to find your new normal with the back up of people that know what you have just been through.

Going to the clinic will help speed your recovery, strengthen your heart and learn the best ways to cope with the changes that you are going through.

Exercise led by a nurse or nurse practitioner that is specialized in cardiac care, classes that will teach you how to reduce your risk of further heart attacks or cardiac-related issues and support with dealing with the mental health side of things.

Getting back on your feet - one step at a time

Getting back on your feet - one step at a time

These Times, They are a-Changin'

So you will need to get your head around the things that you will need to do to lower your potential risk of another heart attack and heart disease related issues:

Stop smoking

For the love of all thing that is good in this world Stop smoking. If you smoke, this is the biggest change in your lifestyle that you do.

It is one of the harder changes that you will have to make but the hardest changes are often the ones that will provide the biggest benefits

Speak with your doctor about ways to quit. It will help make things easier

Ask your doctor about the best ways for you to quit smoking. They will be able to work through a plan of attack on giving up the smokes.

They might offer you some alternatives that you might find work or at least help you a little to quit like alternatives to cigarettes like nicotine gum, patches, and prescription meds that will lessen the cravings.

They might also direct you to support groups or other resources that can help you to stop.

Try your best to quit as soon as possible. Bear in mind that it can be a real challenge for some people to give up the death sticks and that it might take more than one attempt to quit them for good.

Your body will thank you for making the choice to get off of them.

another step in the right direction

It is of the utmost importance if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol that you get it treated straightway, and make sure that you keep it treated and under control at all times.

Both of these things will end up doing damage to your arteries. If you have already suffered a heart attack then keeping these under control will also help to stop the risk of any more damage being done.

Over time, they increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.


A Healthier You

Exercise, a healthy diet, and making healthy changes throughout your life can really be worthwhile as they will help you limit the chance of further risk of you doing more damage. But they may not be enough.

You may be prescribed medication to help you make sure that you are the safest that you can be.

Making sure you manage other health issues like diabetes and obesity.

They would, in particular, be the largest problem as far as risk factors for heart disease and heart attack. If you have diabetes, it's important that you work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar in check.

Exercise, diet, and in some cases medicine can help. Work with your team to come up with a plan.


Watch your weight

Obesity can lead to not only heart disease but also diabetes, so be sure to talk to your doctor about ways you can work to get your diet under control.

They may refer you to a nutritionist, and this can be valuable to ensure that you can live your healthiest future possible.

Make sure that you eat a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet should contain be made up of the following:

  • low all of those unhealthy fats (so lay off those takeaways)
  • Contains a healthy amount of fruit and vegetables
  • High in fiber-rich whole grains
  • low in sodium
  • Low in sugar

These are just a few things that can assist you on your journey to a healthier future.

Spending time with a nutritionist is useful if you have the chance they will be able to work with you to build a healthy diet and eating plans.

Getting moving is also really important, if you can become more active then you are improving not just your heart and overall health but you will also be making the right steps to ensure that your mental health is a healthy as it can be.

Exercise will help to keep your mind sharp and your head clear. It can be easy to be afraid to exercise after a heart attack, I know I felt this myself.

But it turns out that exercising is totally what your heart needs to get back on its feet so to speak. It will also reduce your risk of future heart issues.

A cardiac clinic program is a great opportunity to become more active, but if you can’t access one please make sure that you consult with your doctor to ensure that you are clear on a healthy level of exercise to assist with your recovery.

Make sure you are aware of the signs of any issues. For me after my heart attack, I had to deal with angina for a fair while till I got my strength back.

So be aware of those sort of things and make sure that you have your angina spray at hand just in case.

A heart attack might feel like the end of your life as you know it, but it doesn’t have to be, it can be a sign that you need to just change and evolve the way you are doing things at the moment.

So it is best that you take the opportunity to ensure a safer future whilst you can.

Please be aware that I am not a medical practitioner or even close.

The above information is some of what I have learned and been told and therefore should not be taken as any kind of medical advice.

Unfortunately, I can only help you with some information and you will have to make your own choices on what you listen to or whether you will take any of it on board.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2018 Paddy Michelson


Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on September 03, 2018:

Powerful. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Good information for those who are also in the same boat. Heart disease is rising all over the world. Information from a survivor can save lives. Thank you.

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