Basic Guidelines for Heart Patient Success

If you’ve already had a heart attack, you’re at an increased risk for another.  However, with a few smart moves you can reduce that risk and continue to live a long and fruitful life.  Unfortunately, many heart patients have mistaken ideas about what’s best for their health.  Here are six common misconceptions heart patients have and a few tips on how you can improve your health!

1 – All heart attacks are the same
The most common misconception is thinking that all heart attacks are the same.  If your uncle had a heart attack even after a lifetime of eating low-fat foods and jogging every day, you may think changing your own lifestyle is not worth the trouble.  Or, your friend the construction worker may have given up his job after a heart attack, so you assume you’ll need to give up your desk job, too.  Work with your doctor to learn what’s best for you.  Everyone has different genetics and risk factors unique to their own lifestyle.  It is important to work with your health care provider, friends, and family, to understand and develop a plan that is appropriate for you.

2 – Do not give in to depression
A common side effect after your first heart attack is a feeling of grief or depression.  You and your family may need to work through a variety of emotions after your heart attack. Be mindful that doing so may lead a positive, constructive future.  You can also seek help from a mental health professional.

3 – Continue taking your medications
Don’t stop taking medications without talking to your health care provider to determine what your choices are and what these medications can do for you in terms of risk versus benefit! This is especially important for those who have received stents after having a heart attack. Follow any directions for medication usage closely.

4 – Create a support system
Support is a key element in keeping new healthful habits, and an overall healthy lifestyle.  Ask your family to join your healthy new lifestyle.  Stress the need for support from individuals around you, and embrace those who join you.

5 – Keep exercising
Maybe you’re worried it will overstress your heart.  However, daily 30-minute exercise actually may be one of the best things you can do for your heart.  Get an exercise prescription designed just for you, based on your physical condition and your needs and interests.  One excellent way to get started is to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program.

6 – Ask questions
Lastly, please remember to ask your health care provider questions.  They are your greatest ally and want to partner in your care.  Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns and be sure to make all follow up appointments with your physician.  Follow these guidelines for heart patients, and look forward to tomorrow!

You can learn your risk of heart attack and stroke by registering for a Hackensack Meridian Health Angioscreen session, including comprehensive screenings; carotid artery ultrasound, heart rhythm, blood pressure and screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral artery disease. Participants receive a report of findings, educational materials and consultation with a registered nurse.  Angioscreen is available for a minimal cost and sessions are held monthly, including on January 23, 1:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. For a complete schedule or to register for the Jan. 23 session, call 1-800-560-9990.

Ravindra Patel, M.D., is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology.  Dr. Patel is on staff at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center and his office is located at 530 Green St., Iselin. To make an appointment, call 1-800-DOCTORS.

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