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FAQ (Health)

 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter


Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

Life After Your Heart Attack

So, you have had the heart attack. You had stayed in the hospital and is now ready to be discharged. What lies in future for you?

Believe it or not, it depends strictly on you and your partner. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You are given a second chance. It is up to you to decide whether you want to take advantage of it or not.

In 1981 approximately 800,000 Americans suffered their first heart attacks. Of these about 350,000 died. They did not get a second chance. But the remaining 450,000 were given a second chance.

Thousands of victims, get a second chance after a heart attack. However, about 600,000 people a year suffer a second or third or fourth heart attack, and about 300,000 of them die as a result.

These two groups-those succumbing to their first attacks and those dying after a second or subsequent attack-account for the 650,000 deaths from heart attacks in 1981.

Which of these statistics you will fall depends entirely up to you. Survival of a heart attack is no free ticket to a long life. However, it can be. Risk factors need to be modified, drugs sometimes have to be taken, surgery is indicated at times. Complementary therapy can be very useful. For example, Dean Ornish has shown that you can reverse the effect of heart disease with diet control and following relaxation response that includes yoga, mediation, etc. Prayer and belonging to a church was shown to help heart attack victims to prolong their lives. Pets and humor were found to be helpful. Joining a support group was found to be beneficial. In concert with those who care about you and with your cardiac rehabilitation team, you can keep on living.

The risk of having a second heart attack can be sharply reduced. The evidence comes from several clinical studies. Studies have shown that, in some cases, the death rate was reduced by 26 percent among heart attack victims who took steps to prevent another attack. So, you can do it.

However, you will face some immediate problem. Having a heart attack is a life-changing event for you and for your spouse. Things are never going to be the same. Both of you are going to go through an emotional roller coaster. These are natural. We will describe some of these issues so that you can face them as they come up. It is important to realize that these are quite natural. You need to face them together rather than making them as a source of unnecessary stress.

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