Heart Attack Aftercare

November 10th, 2016

You or your loved one recently suffered from a heart attack. Now what? 

Depending on the severity of the heart attack and smoothness of surgery, heart attack patients can be discharged from the hospital in as little as 3-5 days. Before leaving the hospital, be sure to ask yours (or your loved one's) doctors any questions you may have.

If your medical team prescribes new medications, which they likely will, write down the schedule for taking them and be sure to check the safety of continuing other medications that were being taken before the event, if any. Remember to NEVER discontinue medication without first clearing it with a medical professional! Even something as seemingly simple as Aspirin should be continued until your physician instructs otherwise.

Heart attack patients will likely be given a cardiac rehabilitation protocol to follow on discharge. These exercises are important to build up normal cardiac function, but be sure to trust your body's cues when it comes to conditioning. For caregivers, encouraging heart attack patients is helpful during these rehabilitation times, as patients can often get frustrated and/or overwhelmed when they experience new setbacks in their physical ability.

Roughly 20% of heart attack sufferers will experience depression, anxiety, and denial after their cardiac event. If left untreated, these issues can delay progress in rehabilitation and lessen overall quality of life. If you notice yourself or your loved one showing any signs of these psychological issues, early intervention through therapy or antidepressant medication can help. Your cardiologist and/or physician will be able to recommend the best plan of action to take if needed.

The most important thing to remember after suffering from a heart attack (or in caring for a heart attack patient) is that everyone heals differently. Try not to get discouraged if the "bouncing back" doesn't happen as quickly as you had hoped.

By following doctors' orders, working through the proper cardiac rehabilitation programs, maintaining a healthy frame of mind, and being consistent with follow-up care and appointments, life will be back to normal before you know it!

As always, if you have any questions or cardiac concerns, reach out to our experienced, knowledgeable team of cardiologists or make an appointment at any of our three Western New York locations by calling 1-800-639-HEART.