About 86% of people survive their first heart attack.
Immediate treatment usually involves opening the clogged artery to restore blood flow.
Many people will go be back to normal within a week but sometimes it can take months to recover.
This article was reviewed by John Osborne, MD, PhD, and the Director of Cardiology for Dallas-based State of the Heart Cardiology.
Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Most people — about 86% — will survive their first heart attack. While going through this health challenge is often jarring, it can also be a wake-up call that leads to better health overall.
Here’s what medical experts recommend doing after you’ve had a heart attack, including what to expect and how to recover.
What happens after a heart attack
First, you’ll get a thorough physical exam. Having a heart attack usually indicates there is an underlying health concern, says Bruce Andrus, MD, a cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Most people will discover they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes — all of which are associated with an increased risk for heart attacks. It’s likely that one or more of these factors caused plaque buildup in the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart and leading to the heart attack.
Immediate treatment will focus on opening the artery and restoring blood flow to the heart, says Nicole Weinberg, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Depending on the size and location of the blockage, this may be done with clot-busting medications called thrombolytics or through the placement of a stent, a tiny tube that props the arteries open to restore blood flow and prevent or minimize heart damage.
How to recover from a heart attack and prevent a second one
After addressing the immediate problem, focus shifts to improving long-term health. A heart attack can lead to further heart problems over time, such as heart failure. About 20% of patients 45 years and older will also have a second heart attack within five years.
Your doctor will likely prescribe medications to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Most patients may also be put on medications to reduce clotting and told to take a daily Aspirin, which can decrease the risk of another heart attack in certain cases.
Doctors will also focus on lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure or lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends focusing on “Life’s Simple 7”: stop smoking, eat better, get active, lose weight, manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar.
According to Andrus, these seven factors are a strong foundation to prevent future heart attacks, but recovery may need to go further.
The emotional impact of a heart attack
Experiencing a heart attack can have a big toll on your emotional and mental health. “A heart attack is a serious event, and for most, it provokes some reflection about our mortality,” says Andrus.
While …read more
Source:: Business Insider