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You were brought to the hospital with severe chest pain that was even spreading to your arms, shortness of breath and light headedness. Doctors after thorough evaluations confirmed that you had a severe heart attack.
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked for a long enough time that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. The medical term for this is myocardial infarction. Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries bring blood and oxygen to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked, the heart is starved of oxygen and heart cells die.
Depending upon the severity of the heart attack treatments vary which may include:
Medicines to dissolve a blood clot for example, one that is blocking a coronary artery.
Angioplasty and stent implantation a procedure to open up a blocked coronary artery using a balloon at the point of narrowing.
Bypass surgery an operation in which blood flow is redirected around a narrowed area in one or more of your coronary arteries. It is also called coronary artery bypass graft surgery (often shortened to CABG).
Long-term use of medicines to lower the risk of further heart problems. Be advised by your doctor.
Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD) a small device that is sometimes implanted near the heart to manage abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that may occur after a heart attack.
For you, doctors decided to remove the blood clot from your coronary artery by medicines which will dissolve the clot and thus restore the normal blood flow to your heart.
Fig.1. Illustration of blood clot and plaque formation in coronary artery leading to heart attack.
Do not smoke and do not let anybody smoke in your home, since second-hand smoke can harm you.
Try to stay away from things that are stressful for you.
Avoid salty foods.
Stay away from fast food restaurants.
Take your drugs the way your doctor or nurse told you to. Do not take any other drugs or herbal supplements without asking your doctor first if they are safe for you.
Do NOT suddenly stop taking these drugs for your heart. Do NOT stop taking drugs for your diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other medical conditions you may have without talking with your doctor first.
Potential complications arising from a heart attack can vary widely, from mild to life threatening. Some common complications of a heart attack may include:
Arrhythmia: An arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat, such as beating too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. Arrhythmias can develop after a heart attack as a result of damage to the muscles.
Heart failure: Heart failure is where your heart is unable to effectively pump blood around your body. It can develop after a heart attack if muscles in your heart are extensively damaged.
Cardiogenic Shock: Cardiogenic shock is similar to heart failure but more serious. It develops when the heart's muscles have been damaged so extensively it can no longer supply enough blood to maintain many of the functions of the body.
Heart Rupture: A heart rupture is a serious and relatively common complication of heart attacks.
Addressing the factors that contribute to coronary heart disease can help reduce your risk of heart attack. Things you can do include:
Take medicines as prescribed
Be smoke-free and avoid exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke
Enjoy healthy eating
Be physically active
Manage your blood pressure
Manage your cholesterol and blood lipid levels
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Develop good social support networks and join groups.
Avoid heavy lifting. Get some help with household chores if you can.
Take 30 - 60 minutes to rest in the afternoon for first 4 - 6 weeks. Try to go to bed early and get plenty of sleep.
Before starting to exercise, your doctor will do an exercise test and recommend an exercise plan. This may happen before you leave the hospital or soon afterward. Do not change your exercise plan before talking with your health care provider.
You should be able to talk comfortably when you are doing any activity -- such as walking, setting the table, and doing laundry. If you cannot, stop the activity.
Ask your doctor about when you can return to work. Expect to be away from work for at least 4 - 6 weeks.
Your doctor may refer you to cardiac rehabilitation program. There, you will learn how to slowly increase your exercise and how to take care of your heart disease.
Obesity is one of the primary risk factors for Myocardial Infarction (MI) and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Maintaining an Ideal Weight is crucial. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) here and aim to keep it below 23.
Blood Pressure (BP)
High BP is one of the primary risk factors of MI. Maintaining a normal blood pressure of lower than 120/80 is important to lower the risk of further cardiovascular complications. Exercise can help to maintaining normal BP.
A moderate intensity workout lasting 30 -60 minutes daily can boost heart health, lower BP and also help maintain a healthy weight.
Tobacco and Smoking
Quit! Tobacco and smoking can lead to narrowing of blood vessels lessening oxygen to the heart which may lead to other CVD. Call - the Quit Line, 1800-22-77-87. For more-
Abstinence is the best policy Alcohol is high in calories and known to increase blood pressure. Talk to your doctor to know more about how much alcohol can be consumed.
Diabetic patients are at a risk of developing complications, post cardiac surgery. Keep your blood sugar in constant check by maintaining a balanced diet and a prudent lifestyle. Normal fasting glucose range is 70-100mg/dL and for diabetics it is 70-130mg/dL. After meals for non-diabetics it should be less than 125mg/dL and for diabetics, it should be less than 180mg/dL.
Stress can increase BP leading to pressure on the heart and other complications. Incorporate a daily routine to relax and rejuvenate try to listen to soothing music, chant, read a book or meditate.
Limit intake of tea, coffee, colas to only 1 Cup a day. Lowered caffeine intake is known to induce a better sleep and rest during the night.
For speedy and long lasting recovery after the myocardial infarction. It is necessary to combine positive dietary and lifestyle changes with the recommended medications.
Typically, food items can be classified into six major groups as shown in the Healthy Heart pyramid.
Immediate Diet Plan
Include lots of fresh, seasonal, local and if possible organic Fruits and Vegetables.
Add plenty of Whole Grains (whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole beans).
Choose foods high in Good Fat such as olive oil, peanut oil, fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds. If you do not eat fish, talk to your doctor about taking fish supplements.
Include food sources rich in Magnesium and Potassium to improve heart health.
Say NO to all Sugary beverages and foods. Do not add any extra sugar to beverages like tea coffee etc. Pay special attention if diabetic.
Refined ingredients like white rice, white flour, maida should be completely omitted from diets. Pay special attention if diabetic.
Avoid combination of sugary and refined foods like cakes, pies, ice creams as they do the most harm. Pay special attention if diabetic.
Avoid Unhealthy Fats such as Cholesterol, Saturated and Trans Fat as they clog the arteries. Stay away from egg yolks, cream, butter, ghee, coconut, deep fried items, whole milk, dalda, vanspati.
No Carbonated, Caffeinated and Alcoholic beverages.
Curb Salt intake, as salt increases blood pressure and retention of water in the body.
Don't add salt while cooking and reduce packaged food consumption.
Refer to DASH diet.
Sample Diet Plan (patient recovering after Myocardial Infarction)
Check portion sizes for each food by going to these links. Do not add SALT or SUGAR while cooking or as seasoning. For cooking, use only Olive oil or Peanut oil.
- 1 Cup (250ml) lukewarm water with 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1 Ragi Dosa (Recipe) OR 1 Moong Dal Dosa(Recipe) - 1 medium Apple OR 1 medium Orange
Early Morning Snack
- 1/2 Cup boiled Sweet potatoes, sprinkled with lemon juice OR Brown rice Poha - 1 Cup Coconut water (discard the malai")
- 2 dried Figs and 1 whole Walnut OR 1/2 Cup Murmura
- 1 large bowl of tossed Salad (carrots, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes and onions) (Dressing - mix Olive oil, lemon juice and pepper) - 1 Multigrain phulka OR Jowari Roti - 1 Cup Palak/Plain Dal OR 1 Cup Rajma - 1 Cup Buttermilk
Mid Afternoon Snack
- 1/2 Cup Mixed sprouts OR Chole salad (Recipe) - 1 Cup Green Tea (no milk)
Early Dinner Snack
- 2 Ragi Biscuits OR Unsweetened Oatmeal Biscuits - 1/2 Cup pomegranate seeds OR cubed Musk melon
- 1/2 Cup Brown rice with 1 Cup Mixed vegetable sambar OR 1 Cup Brown rice Khichadi with 1 small bowl of Raita made with low fat yoghurt
- 1 Cup Cabbage curry OR Bottle gourd (Lauki) curry - 1 Cup Buttermilk
Late Night Snack
- 1/2 Cup Skim milk infused with Saffron
Supplements that may help
(Talk to your doctor before starting on any supplements)
Supplements post Myocardial Infarction
Omega-3 (Fish Supplements)
Improves heart health and reduces clogging of arteries.
Lowers bad cholesterol in the body.
Lessens clogging of arteries and reduces incidence of another heart attack.
Lessens symptoms and incidence of further heart attacks and improves heart health
Life Long Instructions
It is never too late to adapt a healthy lifestyle.
Maintain a balanced diet and perform regular physical activity. Eat foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Avoid foods high sodium content. If overweight or obese, loose the extra kilos and maintain a healthy weight. Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol. Check your blood pressure and blood glucose regularly.
Eat Right and Exercise your way to a Healthy Heart.