Johnston-Willis Hospital - February 24, 2020

If you’re lucky enough to survive a first heart attack, then it can be a serious wake-up call to improve your heart health. But it can be easy to slip back into old habits and an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, one out of every five people who have a first heart attack will have a second one within five years.

Follow these tips to avoid suffering a second heart attack:

Listen to your doctor

There’s a feeling of elation at surviving a major trauma such as a heart attack. and at At first, most people are eager to follow their doctor’s orders to embrace a second chance. However, it’s important to stay vigilant even after you feel better and a lot of time has passed. After a heart attack, your doctor will prescribe you medications to help prevent another heart incident, such as a beta-blocker, a statin or aspirin therapy. Take all of your prescribed medicines and check in with your doctor as directed for blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol screenings and physical check-ups.

Don’t skip cardiac rehab

One of the first steps to your recovery after a heart attack is cardiac rehabilitation. This involves outpatient, guided exercise sessions, nutrition counseling and lifestyle monitoring to help you recover fully and prevent another heart attack. It can be tempting to stop participating in your cardiac rehab once you start feeling better, however, it’s best to stick with it until your doctor says otherwise. Cardiac rehab has been shown to reduce the chances of having a repeat heart attack.

Make the recommended lifestyle changes

Your first heart attack was likely caused by one or more lifestyle factors that put you at risk for a heart related problem. To avoid a second heart attack, it’s vital that you make the lifestyle changes your doctor recommends. If you smoke, you need to quit. Cut back on your alcohol consumption and choose to eat a healthy diet. Also, commitment to be physically active every day and watch your weight.

Manage your stress

Stress can be a major factor in heart-related health problems. Take action to reduce your stress and reduce your risk of having another heart attack.

Some ways to manage stress include:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Enjoying time in nature
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Meditation
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Starting a hobby you enjoy

Seek emotional support

Having a heart attack can take a toll on your emotional health, too. Whether it’s family, friends, a professional or an organized group, find a support system to help you through your recovery and motivate you to continue to make good lifestyle choices.

Know the signs of a second heart attack

Even if you do everything you’re supposed to, if you’ve had a heart attack, you’re automatically at risk for a second one. Increase your chances of surviving another heart attack by knowing the symptoms so you can get help fast.

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Extreme weakness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling faint
  • Pain in the arm, jaw, or neck
  • Pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Weakness

Call 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack. Feeling fine? That’s great. But don’t forget to check in with your cardiologist regularly.

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