Heart attack: How diet, exercise, and friends can help recovery

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Experts say daily habits can help improve quality of life after a heart attack. Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images
  • Experts say healthy lifestyle choices can help quality of life in the years following a heart attack.
  • Being active, even for short periods, as well as a healthy diet and stress reduction can help.
  • Having a support system can also help decrease your recovery time.

Having a heart attack doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a productive and satisfying life in the years following the event.

According to a self-reported survey completed in Denmark and published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, people who have had a heart attack reported a high quality of life 20 years after their incident.

Researchers said the results are comparable to the general Danish population.

The researchers examined the answer provided by 2,552 people who survived a heart attack and completed a self-reported survey on their quality of life.

The researchers reported that long-term health quality of life was consistently high, even 20 years after a cardiac event. The researchers say the findings suggest the need for resources to improve survival rates after a heart attack.

“I find it to be a really interesting study, and in a nutshell, what it’s doing is — it’s looking at patients who are survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest who respond to survey tools to look at quality of life. And what they found is that of the people who respond to the survey, their long-term quality of life metrics was similar to the general population,” said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, the director of outpatient cardiology at NYU Langone Heart and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine in the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York.

“And so, the big question that it answers is, as an overarching theme, how do patients do once they survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest? Is their quality of life as a total group stunted or like the general population? And it showed that it was similar to the general population,” Phillips, who was not part of the study, told Medical News Today.

“The second interesting thing is that they’re able to make some baseline comparisons to people who did not respond to the surveys versus those who did respond to surveys and found that the general patient mix was similar,” Phillips added. “But we don’t know more details about those people. And so the question that arises for me is if we can bring more people to the responder category and think of that as an ability to a higher quality of life, can we move that needle, and can we have more people with an allocation of resources, have a good quality of life long term since we see from this study that it is possible.”

After a heart attack, it is essential to choose Healthy meals and snacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The recommendations include:

  • Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Limiting processed foods
  • Limiting your sodium
  • Lowering sugar consumption

Alcohol can raise your blood pressure. The CDC suggests no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one for women.

“One of the best diets to follow is the anti-inflammatory diet created by Dr. Andrew Weil,” Tatiana said. “Based on the Mediterranean diet, it adds some foods such as dark chocolate and green tea. It’s made up of a variety of unprocessed, fresh, whole foods (a whole food is a one-ingredient food), including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, brown or wild rice, lean proteins like organic chicken, turkey and eggs, Healthy carbs like whole grains, Healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil, nuts and seeds including hemp seeds and flax seeds, fish like wild salmon, tuna and sardines, spices like turmeric and cinnamon, green and oolong tea, and dark chocolate.”

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