Having a heart attack can obviously be extremely scary – and it can also act as a big wake-up call to change some daily habits to ensure you’re on a healthy path forward. About 80% of individuals who have a heart attack will survive the experience, so it’s important for survivors to understand what they can do to focus on healthy habits to let their heart heal.
If you’ve recently had a heart attack and you’re not sure how to start your recovery journey, there are a lot of people who will support you. Be sure to lean on friends and family to hold yourself accountable and leverage all the resources your physician team can provide as well. Focusing your energy on the following areas will also make your recovery as smooth as possible:
Maintain an exercise routine. Obviously, you’ll want to take it easy following your heart attack, but it’s important to set a goal for when to start integrating physical activity back into your daily routine. Physical activity helps the heart to recover and can also help to present future heart problems. Speak with your doctor about setting goals for physical activity.
Engage in a healthy and balanced diet. This doesn’t mean that you need to cut out “bad” foods all together. Moderation is important and helps to sustain long-term healthy and balanced diets. Immediately following your heart attack, you’ll want to refocus your diet to avoid foods that have a high fat or salt content. Once you are feeling more like yourself, you can start to sprinkle in the occasional treat. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the diet that makes the most sense for you and your overall health.
Lean on family and friends to hold you accountable. Everyone around you wants to make sure you fully recover from your heart attack. Let family and friends know how vital it is for you to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, so they can help to keep you honest about your food choices. Engaging in consistent physical activity can also be more successful when you are working out with and encouraged by family and friends. If you’re ever feeling discouraged by your recovery process, reach out to your doctor to figure out the best path forward.
Build some fun into your calendar. Recovery can be hard work, especially if you are introducing new healthy habits to your daily life. Make sure your calendar includes some activities that bring you joy so you can relieve stress and recharge. Traveling (if your doctor approves), scrapbooking, reading, or DIY home projects can be great for your mental health and will help to keep you on a clear and healthy path to full recovery.
Make sure you understand your long-term health prognosis. Heart attacks have different impacts on different individuals. It’s important to speak with your doctor about your specific heart health journey so you have clear expectations about any future tests, procedures, and frequency of office visits. You’ll want to make sure that you and your doctor on the same page as it relates to your overall health outlook.
Heart attacks are scary, but they are extremely common – which means there is a lot of information available to help heart attack survivors with their journey to recovery. Learn more about engaging in a heart healthy lifestyle and eating for heart health to ensure you live life to the fullest after experiencing a heart attack. And you can always visit the American Heart Association website to learn more about resources to support your heart attack recovery.