If you or your loved one has survived a heart attack, the only thing you don’t want is another one. Yet, research shows that 1 in 5 people have a second heart attack (technically called a recurrent myocardial infarction) within five years. And 1 in 10 people suffer a second heart attack within a year.
A recent publication in the Journal of the American Heart Association has thrown light on this important aspect of care for the heart patient. It has shown that patients admitted with a first heart attack are at the highest risk of a second attack within the first two days to two weeks after discharge from the hospital. The study also revealed that patients who suffer an early second attack have poor outcomes.
The three defenses that can protect you from that sinister second attack are:
- Taking your heart medications
- Attending the doctor visits
- Joining a cardiac rehab program
Please refer to our earlier posts on medications for the heart and cardiac rehab for a better understanding of these defenses:
The questions our patients usually ask when they join the cardiac rehab program are:
- Am I at risk for another heart attack?
- Is it possible to reverse my heart disease?
- When can I get back to my work routine?
- Do I really need to take so many pills?
- When should I rush to the hospital’s emergency room?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, the evidence-based response is that a comprehensive cardiac rehab program provided by an experienced team of healthcare professionals is your best bet to lower your risk of a second heart attack, reverse your coronary blocks, reduce your medications, get you back to your work and life routine and finally stave off that much-dreaded emergency room visit.
The decision of how you will attend the rehab sessions, whether home-based / centre-based / hybrid, will be made jointly by you and the rehab team. The good thing is whichever format you attend, you will reap all the benefits of the cardiac rehab program such as higher energy levels, more ability to do the things you enjoy, a healthy weight, better control of blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids, heightened emotional wellbeing and an overall increase in quality of life and general wellbeing.
Upon completion of your intensive cardiac rehab program, it is important to stay on a regular follow-up with the rehab team to ensure that the benefits are sustained and that the long-term outcomes are good. There is strong scientific evidence to show that individuals who remain on a regular maintenance rehab phase stay healthier and have better cardiac outcomes than those who do not.