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A Woman's Heart Attack: When Can You Get Back to Normal Life?

From the Show: HER
Summary: Even though you may be aware of all the ways you can prevent a heart attack, what about if you've already had a heart attack... what happens next?
Air Date: 2/12/15
Duration: 10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pamela Peeke, MD
Guest Bio: Gina Pritchard, MSN, RN
Gina PritchardGina Pritchard opened the first PREVENT! Clinic in January 2013. She co-founded The PREVENT! Method along with her Cardiology Colleagues, Christopher M. Gallagher, MD, FACC, and Jeffrey R. Gladden, MD, FACC.

The PREVENT! Method is a scientifically based life-saving approach to prevent, arrest, and reverse cardiovascular disease. Heart attacks and strokes are NOT an inevitable part of life.

Gina started her nursing career at Baylor University Medical Center in the Critical Care Internship program as a Coronary Care Unit (CCU) Registered Nurse. After obtaining her Master's Degree, she joined the Dallas-based Cardiovascular group, Advanced Heart Care. She has spent the last 18 years making hospital rounds in both metropolitan and rural hospitals and also providing medical care for patients in the out-patient Cardiology clinics.

Over the last six-plus years, she and like-minded Cardiologists have refined the PREVENT! Method. Gina travels and speaks as an advocate for early detection and prevention of heart disease, educating people everywhere on cutting-edge and effective testing and treatment options.

Gina is experienced in helping individuals and families avoid and eliminate the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease. Her vision for herself and others is one of optimal health... vibrant life uninterrupted by heart disease.
A Woman's Heart Attack: When Can You Get Back to Normal Life?
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STAFF WRITER
Heart disease is the number one-killer for women in America, and heart attacks can be a harrowing experience. Even after you’ve survived a heart attack, there are still so many unknowns. Will medicine be necessary? What does recovery involve? And, most importantly, will your life ever return to normal?

Gina Pritchard, MSN, RN, has created a life-saving approach to preventing and reversing cardiovascular disease, called the PREVENT! Method. From her experience, there are several things to take into consideration about surviving a heart attack.

The Different Aspects of Recovery

For one, the recovery phase is highly variable but dependent on the amount of damage done to the heart. A physician’s primary goal is restoring the heart to normal and allowing you to continue the same level of physical activity. Most heart damage can be undone if it’s treated quickly enough before the heart muscle is damaged too severely.

There is a mental aspect to recovering from a heart attack that may not be apparent. At first, women may have to deal with shock, denial, and overcome myths such as thinking it’s more common for men to have heart attacks,

In terms of physical activity, don’t lift for the first three-to-five days, but start walking lightly as soon as you can. Take regular strolls in the hospital and at home, and wait about a week before doing anything more intense. Around the one-week mark is when you will have your first follow-up appointment, and you’ll find out when you can resume normal physical activity like lifting weights or having sex.

Medication after a heart attack can also vary between men and women. The most common drug treatment includes aspirin, a statin medication, and a base inhibitor. Depending on the severity of the heart attack, stronger blood thinners may also be used. All of these medications can cause added fatigue and muscle aches, which combined with a woman’s smaller blood vessels, may be more uncomfortable than they would be for a man.

Another thing to consider is that many times, a women’s life doesn’t stop because there are too many balls to juggle. Sometimes, you may have the support of a loving partner, but other times, you may not. It’s important to keep stress levels to a minimum after a heart attack to ensure proper healing, but it will prove difficult if you are the main provider and there are children to care for or bills to pay.

Many different medications and treatment options are available, and you may be able to find the right combination that will give you the best results while minimizing the side effects. Find a cardiologist that specializes in helping women and understands the difference in anatomy. Work with them to tailor an aftercare experience that will get you back to normal as quickly as possible.

In the accompanying audio segment, Gina Pritchard, MSN, RN, discusses the importance of heart health, as well as what you can expect during recovery if you were to have a heart attack.

Alonso is a long-time health and wellness advocate who loves to write about it. His writing spans the scope of blogs, educational magazines, and books, both on and offline.

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