One of the main concerns after having a heart attack is the increased risk of having another. People who have suffered a heart attack are more likely to have a second heart attack for two reasons. The first reason to worry about a repeat attack is that you had one in the first place. From a health standpoint, there were obviously factors that led to the initial heart attack. These factors could be anything from your genetics to diet to cholesterol. The thing to remember is that whatever caused you to suffer a heart attack the first time could cause it to happen again. Unless, that is, you take steps to remedy the situation and thereby reduce your risk of a second heart attack.
The second cause for concern of a second attack is that the first attack likely damaged, and weakened, your heart. A heart attack is caused, in short, by a lack of blood flow to the heart. When the heart is deprived of oxygen-rich blood, the affected areas of muscle begin to starve and die. While prompt treatment saves lives, tissue death is irreversible. The starved portions of heart muscle turn to scar tissue. This scar tissue is weaker than before, meaning as a whole your heart will never function as well as it did prior to your heart attack. This weakened state is to blame for the increased risk of a second occurrence.
These are very serious concerns, but they are not necessarily a death sentence. In fact many people who survive a heart attack do not suffer a reoccurrence and go on to lead long, healthy lives. The difference between the two lies in recognizing the need for treatment and, above all, the need for change.
There are certain steps you can take following a heart attack to reduce your risk of a second episode. One of the best ways to improve heart health is to start exercising regularly. Be sure to speak with your doctor before you begin exercising, as you want to ensure you are healthy enough for physical activity. Once you get the doctor’s approval, however, you should immediately begin working on improving your fitness level. Sedentary lifestyles have been found to significantly increase the odds of having a heart attack. It stands to reason, then, that an active lifestyle can reduce those same risks. Regular physical activity will also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
The food you eat has a massive impact on your health. To reduce the odds of having another heart attack, consider incorporating more heart healthy foods into your diet. One of the easiest ways to modify your diet is to cut back on salt intake. When possible, opt for foods with no added salt and season with herbs and spices instead. Be wary of foods that are high in cholesterol, as high cholesterol levels are the main cause of arterial plaque. Animal byproducts such as eggs and milk should be eaten in moderation. Know the difference between good and bad fats, and adjust your diet accordingly. In addition to knowing the foods you shouldn’t be eating, you should also make sure to know the foods you should be eating.
Stress is unavoidable, but taking small steps to relax and unwind is exceptionally beneficial for your heart. Things like breathing or meditation are sometimes helpful in dealing with stress. Others find the best way to handle stressful situations is to talk them out with friends or family.