According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), roughly 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. And of these people, 210,000 have already had a heart attack.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women and the vast majority of heart attacks are caused by known risk factors – many of which can be reduced or managed.
Making changes in your lifestyle can lower your risk factors as well as your chances of having another cardiac episode. Not to mention, it helps you look and feel better overall. Here are five habits to implement after a heart attack to help you take back control of your health moving forward.
(Download and learn 10 Ways to Lower Your Risk of a Second Heart Attack)
1. Monitor your nutrition.
Adopting a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to combat cardiovascular disease. You can begin by limiting saturated and trans fat, sodium, red meat, sugar and processed foods (which tend to be high in sodium and sugar).
Instead, fill your plate with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy oils. Fiber-rich foods like eggplant and okra can also help lower LDL cholesterol.
2. Engage in exercise.
Incorporating low to moderate physical activity in your daily routine is another way to reduce your chances of a heart attack. It strengthens your heart by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. It also acts as a stress reliever and can help you avoid other ailments like obesity and diabetes.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both spread throughout the week.
Aerobic (or cardio) gets your heart rate up and can help improve your cardiorespiratory fitness while vigorous intensity activities push your body further – requiring a higher amount of effort.
Whether you decide to walk, run, cycle and swim or engage in activities like housework or gardening, any movement is better than none. And, keep in mind; you can break it down into short boosts of activity throughout the day or week. Just be sure to get the go-ahead from your doctor before starting.
3. Manage your stress.
Managing stress is another habit to implement after a heart attack and can benefit your health in various ways. After a heart attack, you’ll likely be experiencing a range of emotions, including anxiety and depression. These emotions can make it more difficult to implement and maintain habits that’ll improve your health.
However, if you can foster a positive outlook on your treatment, it can help reduce your risk of future problems. Here are five tips from Harvard Health to get you started.
4. Control your blood pressure.
According to the CDC, only 54% of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, stresses your heart and blood vessels. While a low-sodium diet and exercise can help, your doctor may also recommend beta-blockers to assist in controlling your blood pressure.
A home blood pressure monitor can help you control high levels on a daily basis. It can also indicate if your medication is working or alert you to any health complications. Here’s some information on the different types of monitors on the market and what to look for.
5. Lower your cholesterol.
High cholesterol is associated with heart disease but can cause other ailments like diabetes, kidney failure and liver disease. And because high cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms, many people are unaware they have it. LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, can build up in the walls of your arteries and produce a blockage – which often results in a heart attack or stroke.
The best way to learn if your LDL cholesterol is high is through a blood test. You want to aim for a total blood cholesterol below 200 mg/dL with your LDL below 100 mg/dL and your HDL above 40 mg/dL. For more information on HDL vs. LDL cholesterol, click here.
Recovering from a heart attack is difficult, but implementing a handful of major lifestyle changes can be even more challenging. In addition to the five habits we listed above, setting SMART goals will help you reach success quicker.
As you begin, ensure the changes you’ve set are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-oriented. From here, tracking will be your best accountability.
There’s no time like the present to adopt new habits and prevent the chances of a second heart attack. To learn more about preventive health or to schedule a heart scan, reach out to our team today at (918) 879-6161.
How to Lower Your Risk of a Second Heart Attack
According to the American Heart Association, roughly 20 percent of patients will have a second heart attack within five years. In this checklist, we cover topics like nutrition, exercise, cholesterol and blood pressure as well as heart medications to reduce your risk.
Click below to download your free copy now.