The next steps to a healthy heart after a heart attack


If you've recently had a heart attack, you may feel scared, confused and overwhelmed. You probably have a lot of questions about your road to recovery. The good news is there are a few concrete steps you can take to prevent another heart attack in the future.

Heart attacks by the numbers
Each year, about 660,000 people in the United States have a heart attack and 85 percent of those people will survive. However, 20 percent of people 45 and older have a second heart attack within five years of their first. Avoiding a second heart attack means making some lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.

How to reduce your risk of a second heart attack 
Once you’ve been discharged from the hospital, take these steps to avoid having a second heart attack:

  1. Make and keep a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider. This will help you and your provider keep track of your condition and recovery.
  2. Understand the function of your medications and take them as directed. Certain medicines can lower your risk of having another heart attack so it’s important to understand how they work and take them correctly.
  3. Participate in cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack, and it can lower mortality rates in heart attack patients. Your provider should refer you to a cardiac rehab facility when you're discharged from the hospital. The Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center will pair you with an experienced team, including an exercise physiologist, registered nurse and respiratory therapist, to develop a treatment plan specifically for you. 
  4. Seek out emotional support. It’s easy to feel emotionally overwhelmed after a heart attack. Getting support from people close to you can help you cope.
  5. Eat a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends a diet that limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, added sugars and red meat while including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils, unsalted nuts and seeds.
  6. Stay active. Once you’re done with rehab, exercise for 40 minutes three or four times a week.

Reach out to the cardiac experts at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center to learn more about how you can maintain a healthy heart.