What to do after a heart attack? The importance of cardiac rehabilitation to resume a normal life.
After suffering a heart attack, it is absolutely normal to wonder about one’s own quality of life, what to do to feel better again, how to resume our normal life, and how to prevent other cardiac events. The most common feelings after a heart attack are fear that it may happen again, or a sense of depression feeling our life will never be the same again, or anxiety making us afraid and concerned at each single minor chest pain or mild respiratory issue. These feelings are normal, and can be overcome.
In addition to taking all your prescribed medications and discussing with your cardiologist any doubts you may have on your therapy, we recommend starting a cardiology rehabilitation program that involves:
- Getting rid of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, alcohol, inappropriate diet, lack of physical exercise).
- Starting a healthy lifestyle with regular physical exercise and a balanced diet. Physical activity is crucial after a heart attack, to recover good health and prevent future cardiac events. Aerobic activity helps the heart pump with less effort, decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increases good cholesterol (HDL) levels, and improves your mood giving with a sense of general wellbeing. A personalized physical activity program should take into account your general clinical conditions, the therapies you are currently following, and your response to exertion, in order to establish the right intensity of physical exercise and maximize the benefits whilst maintaining an appropriate safety margin. Choose a balanced and low-calorie diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, and cereals. It’s important to cut down processed food, salt, cold-cuts, carbonated drinks and alcohol consumption, and avoid oil preserves, and precooked and prepackaged food. Go for vegetable fats (extra virgin olive oil) instead of animal fats (butter, lard, cream), and white meat instead of red meat. Eat oily fish at least 2-3 times a week: its high content of Omega3 fats will clean up your arteries from lipids, and help your heart function properly. Always prefer steaming, baking, or grilling cooking methods, and avoid frying.
- Psychological support ,to address the emotional aspects of your recovery.
- Yoga and mindfulness stretching, relaxing, breathing, and meditation will help you resume calmness and serenity, and manage high levels of stress that are so frequent in everyday life.
Cardiology rehabilitation. Where should I begin?
First of all, discuss cardiac rehabilitation with the cardiologist who followed in the hospital and/or with your cardiologist of reference or with your GP. With a medical prescription for cardiac rehabilitation, you may go to the closest center offering the program that best suits your needs.
The Cardiology Rehabilitation Program at UPMC Institute for Health Chianciano Terme can be followed as a paying patient or under agreement with the NHS. The program includes three steps:
A clinical and structural initial assessment , of your heart under stress and at rest, and your risk profile.
Planning and starting the program. Based on the initial assessment, a physical exercise program is established according to your training heart rate zones, and includes aerobic exercises (stationary bike, treadmill), floor exercises, and muscle toning combined with educational programs to change your lifestyle (psychologist’s support, nutrition consults, healthy cooking classes, yoga, mindfulness).
Discharge. At the end of the program, you will be assessed by a cardiologist and a physical therapist. You will receive a medical report with all your accomplished results, and instructions on how to follow your physical therapy and new lifestyle at home, after the program, when you will referred to your cardiology or center of reference.
A multidisciplinary team, including a cardiologist, physical therapist, nutritionist, psychologist, nurse, and personal trainer, will follow you throughout the program. During the Cardiology Rehabilitation Program at UPMC Institute for Health you will be followed by a team of specialists in an innovative and comfortable facility, equipped with Technogym™ equipment. This will help your recovery towards a full and active life.