After a Heart Attack, What’s Next?


via Medical City | There is life after a heart attack. As your heart heals from the procedures performed to restore it, patients now need to modify their lifestyle to stop or slow the progress of the disease.

If you recently had a cardiac procedure at The Medical City, you may want to check out these heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help you bounce back and enjoy life.


The truth is as your heart heals, you’ll be ready to start moving around again. Your doctor may recommend you to enroll in a Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

Surviving a heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is a life-changing event. Aside from recovering from the procedures that were performed to stop and treat the heart attack, most patients will also have to modify their lifestyles. These lifestyle changes are designed to target risk factors for heart disease and stop or slow the progress of disease.

While it is never easy to make lifestyle changes, doing so after a heart attack is an important part of looking toward the future.
Making changes in your lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to prevent not just another heart attack, but heart disease and stroke as well. The ABCs of prevention are:

• Avoid Tobacco — If you smoke after a heart attack, your chances of having a second one are doubled. After a year without smoking, your risk for heart disease is lowered by 50 percent compared to when you were still smoking. If you smoke and wish to quit, your physician and other qualified medical professionals and support groups can help you, even if you have tried in the past without success.

• Become More Active — Regular physical activity will ease stress and depression, help control weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Regular exercise is one of the main parts of cardiac rehabilitation programs that are recommended after having a heart attack. Before embarking on a regular exercise regimen, discuss it with your doctor.

• Choose Good Nutrition — Good nutrition will help control your weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and help your body heal faster. Your doctor can help you identify how to adopt a more heart-healthy, as well as refer you to a nutritionist or other qualified medical professional to give you ongoing, detailed support.

Even if you’re taking prescription medication, it’s still extremely important to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Returning to Normal Activities

After a heart attack, most people who don’t have chest pain or discomfort or other problems can safely return to most of their normal activities within a few weeks. Most can begin walking right away.

Most heart attack patients go back to work within two weeks to three months depending on the severity of the heart attack. Your doctor will determine when you can go back and if your current job is suitable for a person who has had a heart attack.

Anxiety and Depression after a Heart Attack

After your heart attack you will probably have a wide range of emotions. Two of the most common are anxiety and depression. If you are like most people, you have probably had thoughts like: “Am I going to die or am I living on borrowed time? Will my chest pain come back?” These are troubling thoughts, but as time goes by, your worries will go away.

While depression is normal after a heart attack, you should talk to your doctor and those close to you if this depression interferes with sleeping, eating, self-esteem, or if you start entertaining thoughts of suicide. If you’re very depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Recovery is much faster with a trusted support team of healthcare professionals, family and friends.

Continuous Medication

Do not stop taking your medication as doing so can be dangerous. Be sure to discuss any side effects from the medication with your doctor.

Diabetes Management

According to the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care Journal, diabetes is associated with an increased mortality after acute myocardial infarction.
People with diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing complications after a heart attack. Tight blood sugar control can help reduce the risk of these and other types of complications. Tight control can be achieved by losing weight, managing your diet, exercising, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly, and taking medications. Please discuss this with your doctor or endocrinologist.

Cholesterol Management

High levels of LDL cholesterol, or the so-called bad cholesterol, can increase the build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart. The ideal blood cholesterol level for you depends on your age, gender, and history of heart disease. Your doctor can help you manage your cholesterol levels through diet, physical activity and medications.

Blood pressure

It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Normal blood pressure is less than 140/90 mm Hg. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, the usual target is to reduce blood pressure in someone who has had an MI to below 130/80 mm Hg. This figure may vary depending on whether you have other conditions – for example, kidney disease.

Again, lifestyle factors can help lower blood pressure, such as eating a healthy diet, exercise, losing weight if you are overweight and not eating much salt. See your doctor if your blood pressure remains persistently high.

Stress Management

Several studies suggest that ongoing stress could be as potent a risk factor for heart attacks as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Managing your stress level can help safeguard your heart health. If you find you have trouble managing your stress level, seek advice from a qualified medical professional that can help you identify “stress busters” that will work for you.

The Medical City Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) Program

The Medical City (TMC) is the first hospital in the Philippines to receive a certification from Joint Commission International (JCI) for its AMI program.
The TMC Cardiovascular Center has an AMI program which targets a 90 minute or less Door-to-Balloon time. This means that a heart attack patient who walks through the doors of the hospital’s Emergency Department should have the blocked coronary artery opened in the Catheterization Laboratory (Cath Lab) within 90 minutes.

Dr. Paolo Prado, AMI program director, says recovery from heart attack is also an integral part of the program. During the patient’s recovery period, he will receive help and support from a range of health care professionals, which may include nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, pharmacists, and cardiac rehab specialists.

To know more about the AMI program or related services of The Medical City Cardiovascular Center, please call 988100 or 9887000 ext. 6314.

Life After Heart Attack, The Medical City Center for Patient Partnership Patient Education Material