Heart Attack Rehabilitation Programs & Treatments
Cardiac rehabilitation programs are extremely important after a heart attack. Banner Health offers medically supervised rehabilitation programs to help improve your health. These treatments may include lifestyle changes, education and counseling and exercise training. You can participate in these programs at a Banner Health hospital or with the help of a healthcare professional.
Can A Car Accident Cause A Heart Attack
A severe car accident can cause an array of different health issues and injuries, but one person might not expect is a heart attack. A heart attack takes place when theres not enough blood and oxygen reaching your heart, usually caused when an artery becomes blocked.
People who drive a car or motorcycle do not have to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency after a heart attack. However, the DVLA strongly recommends that they stop driving for at least four weeks after a heart attack and only restart driving when their doctor tells them that they are safe to do so.
Senior Recovery After A Heart Attack
According to Heart and Stroke Foundation, more than 350,000 Canadians are hospitalized for heart disease or stroke every year.
A heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction , changes the lives of both seniors and their caregivers. Fortunately, because of advances in coronary surgery and care, seniors who survive a heart attack can often enjoy healthy, active lives for years to come.What you can expect when your loved one returns home after a heart attack depends on its severity and the actual damage to the heart. Seniors over 65 may need eight weeks or more to fully recover, and are more prone to complications than younger patients. If your loved one has had a heart attack, its essential to understand the changes necessary for a successful recovery.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Attack
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.2
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Learn more about risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.
After You Leave The Hospital
A patients treatment doesnt end once theyre discharged. Theyll undergo follow-up appointments with their doctor and plenty of education about what led to the heart attack and how best to treat it.
Theyll also likely undergo a cardiac rehabilitation program, an exercise program involving treadmill or stationary bike usage while wearing a heart monitor so specialists can monitor your EKG levels and your vital signs.
Its a major event in their life and they have to go through a psychological recovery as much as a physical recovery, Dr. Asfour says.
Depending on the damage incurred to the heart, patients can generally return to normal activities – unless those normal activities including smoking, being sedentary or eating lots of unhealthy, fried foods.
I ask patients to own it, in a sense, Dr. Asfour explains. To learn about it, be their own advocate. I dont just want them to be receiving pills and doing whatever I tell them. I want them to challenge the status quo. To be more active in their own care.
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What Happens In The First Few Days After A Heart Attack
You will be closely monitored in the first few days after your heart attack
Depending on the severity of your heart attack, the treatmentyou have received and your home situation, you will usuallybe in hospital for 3 to 5 days.
- The first 24-48 hours after a heart attack is when your condition will be most unstable.
- This period is often spent in a coronary care unit , a specialised intensive care unit for heart patients, or in an acute medical ward where your heart function can be monitored closely.
- Your blood sugar level will also be closely monitored. After a heart attack, some people have an increase in their blood sugar level. If this happens you might need treatment with insulin to reduce your blood sugar levels.
- As a result of your heart attack, other conditions can develop. For example, your heart may not be able to pump blood around your body as well as it did before, or there may be damage to the control of the electrical activity of your heart.
- It is normal to feel very tired after a heart attack. Initially try to limit any visiting to your immediate family and keep visits brief. Meals are intentionally light as a heavy meal will increase demand on your heart. Eating smaller meals more often means that your heart will not have to work so hard.
Changes In Lifestyle For Recovering Seniors
There is no cure for coronary artery disease. In order to prevent the progression of this disease, there must be lifestyle changes so the heart does not have to work as hard. For example:
- Stop smoking, as it is directly related to an increased risk of heart attack and its complications.
- Lower high blood cholesterol. Follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol eating plan. When proper eating does not control cholesterol levels, medication is prescribed.
- Control high blood pressure. A healthy diet, low sodium, exercise, and medications can help.
- Maintain diabetes control through diet, exercise, and medications.
- Follow an exercise plan to improve energy and overall health. Always check with the doctor first.
- Control stress and anger with skills such as time management, relaxation, or yoga.
Get regular heart check-ups. Your loved one should make a doctors appointment four to six weeks after leaving the hospital, or as the physician directs, to check the progress of his or her recovery. The doctor may also recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program in a medically supervised setting.
Comfort Keepers® can help. Comfort Keepers® Interactive Caregiving keeps senior clients engaged physically, mentally, and emotionally while living independently at home. Call your local office today to find out more about the ways we can help during the recovery process.
Heart Attack Recovery Time
Recovery after a heart attack doesnt happen immediately after leaving the hospital. Depending on the severity, it may take a few weeks to a few months to fully recover. While rest is important after a heart attack, it is also important for heart attack survivors to get more physical activity than they did before.
A big part of recovery can be to implement lifestyle changes that may take time. If you or a loved one has recently experienced a heart attack be sure to allow yourself time to recover and dont put pressure on yourself to bounce back overnight.
Why Are Lifestyle Changes Important
Making changes in your lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to prevent another heart attack, heart disease and stroke. The ABCs of prevention are:
- Avoid Tobacco As a nonsmoker, you can go so many places and enjoy so many experiences that were off limits to you as a smoker.
- Become More Active Regular physical activity will ease stress and depression, help control weight and help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Choose Good Nutrition Good nutrition will help control your weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Even if you’re taking prescription medication, it’s still extremely important to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Learn more about the lifestyle changes for heart attack prevention.
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How Long Does Rehab Last
You may need six weeks, six months or longer to learn how to manage your condition and develop healthier habits. Many programs last only three months, but some continue for years.
Christie Thompsons experience with rehab was so successful and positive that she developed one to help maintain the health benefits long term. After the official program was over, I created my own routine that included cardio every single day and healthier eating, says Christie.
What Happens After Youve Had A Heart Attack
When someone has a heart attack, getting early and effective treatment is critical to limiting damage to the heart muscle.
Ninety minutes is kind of the acceptable norm, says Dr. Abedelrahim Asfour, director of the cardiac cath lab at Beaumont Hospital, Trenton. The sooner, the better. Ninety minutes is where we can prevent a lot of the damage to the heart muscle.
Most heart attacks occur as the result of an immediate and sudden blockage of the arteries, Dr. Asfour says. As a result, the heart muscle loses nutrients and blood supply. That could lead to arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats, a weakening of the heart muscle and ultimately, congestive heart failure.
Heart Attacks In Older Adults
Your risk for a heart attack and cardiovascular disease increases after age 65.
This is due to age-related changes that can occur in the heart, including high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries .
Having a heart attack as an older adult also comes with special considerations.
Diet and exercise training are crucial for future heart attack prevention, but it may take longer to recover. Older adults may also be at a higher risk for cognitive issues and reduced functional movements.
To reduce the long-term effects of a heart attack, its recommended that older adults be especially vigilant about increasing physical activity when theyre able.
This will help strengthen the heart muscle and protect it from future damage.
Another consideration is trying to reduce your blood pressure, as needed. Hypertension is the most common heart-related condition in adults over age 75.
What Happens If You Dont Tell Dvla About Heart Attack
Heart attacks, angioplasty, and driving. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you dont tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if youre involved in an accident as a result. You dont need to tell DVLA if youve had a heart attack or a heart, cardiac or coronary angioplasty.
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Is Chest Pain Normal After A Heart Attack
Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at higher risk for another one. Not everyone who has CHD will have chest pain , but if you do, it should be a light pain or pressure in your chest that quickly goes away. It will typically happen during or right after physical exertion, intense emotion or eating a heavy meal. If you’re having ANY chest pains, tell your doctor. There are exercises and medication that can help ease or prevent the pain. If you don’t know if your chest pain is angina or a heart attack, call 911.
Getting Back To Your Normal Life
When you first get home from hospital take it easy for the first few days. Recognise when you’re tired and rest. Initially you may wish to limit visitors and telephone calls. Be up and dressed each day, and keep increasing your daily activities gradually. Climb stairs at a pace you find comfortable.
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Fighting Depression In Recovering Seniors
About one fourth of victims feel depressed, angry, and afraid after a heart attack. This is normal and usually goes away with time, as they get back to regular activities. Help by encouraging your loved one to:
- Get a good nights sleep, but not stay in bed all day.
- Resume favorite hobbies.
- Limit visits with friends and family at first to avoid feeling overly tired. Increase visits, depending on how your loved one feels. With time, these visits can lift his or her spirits.
Should I Join A Support Group As Part Of My Recovery
Mental health, social interactions, and participation in routine activities play a large role in post-heart attack recovery and quality of life.
If youre recovering from a heart attack and trying to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes, its important to avoid isolation. Connecting to family, friends, and support groups not only helps put you in touch with people in similar situations, but it leads to better health outcomes. Ask your doctor if they recommend any specific support groups they can point you to.
Given that youve already experienced a heart attack, youre probably more aware of the symptoms and warning signs. Nevertheless, you should call 911 or visit the hospital emergency room right away if you experience any of the following:
- discomfort in your chest, one or both arms, back, neck, or jaw
- shortness of breath
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack
The major symptoms of a heart attack are
- Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.
Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.1Learn more facts about heart attack and heart disease.
Manage Other Risk Factors
Heart disease can run in families, but the majority of heart attacks may be attributed to lifestyle choices.
Aside from diet, exercise, and smoking habits, its important to manage other risk factors that might contribute to future heart attacks.
Talk to your doctor about:
- mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression
- alcohol consumption
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Why Is Cardiac Rehabilitation Important
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get into a cardiac rehabilitation program where everything you need to get and stay healthy is in one convenient location. Rehabilitation programs are medically supervised to help you improve your health and well-being and change your lifestyle habits through exercise training, education and counseling to reduce stress. These programs often take place at a hospital with a rehabilitation team or with the help of your doctor, nurse, dietitian or other healthcare professionals. Ask your doctor whether cardiac rehab can help you improve your health.
Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation.
Physical Activity And Exercise
Normal physical activity and regular exercise are advised for most people who have had a heart attack. You should try to be physically active – for example, take the stairs whenever possible, walk to the shops, and wash your car.
In the past, people thought that exercise ‘put a strain on the heart’ and was bad. However, quite the opposite is true for most people who recover from a heart attack. Physical activity and regular exercise are good for the heart. Indeed, regular exercise is one of the main parts of heart rehabilitation programmes that are popular after having a heart attack. Regular exercise is a major way to reduce the risk of having a further heart attack.
However, before starting regular exercise, discuss it with your doctor. This is because strenuous exercise in certain situations may not be advised. For example, some people with heart valve problems may be advised not to exercise. However, these people are the exception. For most people who have had a heart attack, exercise is beneficial.
After a heart attack it is best to build up your level of activity and exercise gradually. For the first week or so, try simply to go for a short walk each day. Everyone is different and the length of the walk depends on how fit you were to start with. For some people, at first it may simply be a walk to the end of the garden and back for others, a walk to the end of the road for others, a bit further.
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How Can I Take Care Of My Heart At Home
Heart disease is serious, and its one of the leading causes of death. So no matter how you are, keeping your heart healthy is important to limit the risk of illness and complications. Here are some ways you can boost heart health at home:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Avoid excessive salt, fat and sugar. Use herbs and spices instead of salt. Walnuts and flaxseeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to decrease swelling in the arteries and protect the heart. They can also help lower cholesterol levels.
- Drink water at regular intervals . This can help remove waste from the body as well as help your heart in pumping blood.
- Maintain a healthy weight according to your age and height.
Some Other General Points
- Tell your doctor if you get any chest pain following a heart attack. The chest pain may be due to angina. Angina is a pain in the chest that often comes on when you exercise, such as when walking briskly. It is due to narrowing of the coronary arteries. See the separate leaflet called Angina for more details.
- Tell your doctor if you get breathless, become more tired than usual, or notice your feet swelling. These symptoms may indicate a degree of heart failure . This can often be helped with medication. See the separate leaflet called Heart Failure for more details.
- Depression is common after a heart attack, often made worse by unfounded concerns. Again, tell your doctor if you think you are depressed. Treatment for depression often works well and can improve your quality of life. See the separate leaflet called Depression for more details.