By: Alonso Chavarriaga
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.