If you are an elderly person who has had a heart attack or have an elderly family member who has suffered the same, you may be concerned with providing care after the cardiac episode. It is important to make significant changes to your lifestyle after suffering a heart attack. Suddenly there are new medications to take and a recovery period to deal with carefully. The good news is, you are not alone. More than one million people each year suffer heart attacks, and half of them survive. As a result of major medical advances, it is possible for seniors who survive a heart attack to continue to live an active and healthy life for many years after.
If you or a loved one have suffered a heart attack, it is not the end of the world. For many, the recovery period can be as little as one-week long. Of course, this depends on the severity of the attack and how much damage has been done to the heart. The place where you recover also depends on the severity; some patients will need to endure a hospital stay during their recovery while others can return home. If you are over the age of 65 when you suffer a heart attack, it can take in excess of 8 weeks for a full recovery.
After a heart attack, it is extremely important that medications are closely monitored and taken regularly. Failure to stick to a prescribed medical regimen can result in further trips to the hospital for heart failure. Heart attack patients are typically prescribed ACE inhibitors, statins, beta blockers, and aspirin. If you are caring for someone who has suffered a heart attack, make sure to read their prescriptions carefully and educate yourself about them.
Major lifestyle changes may be necessary to prevent future heart attacks. Regular exercise will help the heart strengthen, while also providing extra energy and improving mental health. A stress test performed by the patient’s physician will tell you how much exercise a heart attack survivor can safely participate in and how strenuous it can be. In the end, any amount of exercise is helpful. Walking (even with a walking cane), swimming, and stationary cycling are all excellent exercise activities for seniors.
Dietary changes are essential for preventing future heart attacks. A diet that reduces the amount of sodium and saturated fat consumed is most effective at reducing the risk for future episodes. It is also essential to consume as many vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, whole grains, and dairy products that are low in fat, as possible.
Physical and dietary changes are not the only things to look out for. You or your loved one may feel extremely fearful of having another heart attack. It is also possible that you or your loved one will be upset with, or resentful for, any help that they may need to receive as a result of their episode. This is especially true of those who need to spend an extended period of time recovering in the hospital. Being in an unfamiliar environment is stressful in the best circumstances, never mind after having suffered a heart attack. This emotional upset could lead to an unwillingness to alter diet and exercise routines. Make sure to keep an eye out for signs of extreme depression or suicidal tendencies, and get help as necessary.
Any chest pain, known in the medical field as angina pectoris that occurs after a heart attack must be immediately reported to the sufferer’s doctor. If you are caring for an elderly person who suffered a heart attack, make sure to ask them regularly how their chest has been feeling; they may not be willing to admit that they have had chest pain. Keep in mind that this feeling is frequently reported in patients who have suffered a heart attack, so there is no need to panic. You or your loved one’s doctor will be able to advise you as to whether or not the pain indicates that another heart attack is imminent.
All said it is important to make significant changes to the lifestyle of a person who has suffered a heart attack. The above dietary and exercise changes are key, but they are not the only changes that need to be made. Losing weight, managing diabetes, and eliminating alcohol and tobacco can all help prevent future heart attacks.