By: on In Highlights

What kind of changes will I have to make after a heart attack?

One of the biggest factors in your recovery and subsequent health is your attitude. Strange as it may seem, the decision to become a healthier person is one that has to be made by the person themselves. A room full of doctors can repeat the necessity of healthy diet and regular exercise, but unless you yourself see the value in such changes, sticking to them will be nearly impossible. Once you’ve decided to turn your health around, the best thing to do is to equip yourself with the information that will make such a transition possible.

The average person stays in the hospital for up to a week following a heart attack. During this time, you will be observed by a team of healthcare professionals. The job of this team is to restore you to health. This means careful observation of your medication, diet and more. Once you leave the hospital, however, your health is your responsibility. There will not be someone reminding you to take your medication, or telling you not to eat that cheeseburger. It is important to understand that lifestyle changes can be difficult to maintain unless you learn to hold yourself accountable.

If you are a smoker, one of the most immediate changes you will have to make is to quit. Quitting smoking is perhaps the most important lifestyle change.

Unfortunately, it is also perhaps the most difficult. Many struggle to quit smoking after a heart attack, but the fact is that doing so greatly reduces your risk of another heart attack. In fact, studies show that after quitting smoking, heart health can be vastly improved in as little as a year.

Diet is another area that people tend to struggle with. Many people report bouts of depression and lethargy following a heart attack. This is problematic in that people often turn to food in times of sadness or discomfort; it’s called comfort food for a reason. After having a heart attack, it is important to watch what you eat. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods entirely, but be conscious of what you are putting into your body. Steering clear of junk food is only half the battle, however.

It is just as important to give your body good, nutritious food as it is to avoid the bad.

Following a heart attack, it is essential that you be aware of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol generally do not display any symptoms, so most do not realize they have a problem until it is too late. Having already had a heart attack, however, there is no such excuse. Blood pressure can be managed with a healthy diet, regular physical activity and medications. Cholesterol levels can also be kept in check with a healthy diet.

Exercise is an integral part of health. It has been shown time and time again that a sedentary lifestyle leads to all kinds of health problems. Inactivity has been linked both with diabetes and obesity; two of the biggest risk factors for a heart attack. Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to mean going to the gym for hours a day. Something so simple as a brisk 30 minute walk, when repeated three or more times per week, will have a tremendous impact on your health. For those who are daunted by the prospect of starting to exercise, or just don’t know where to start, there are various cardiac rehabilitation programs available to assist you in beginning your new, active life.