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Recovery After A Heart Attack

8 months, 3 weeks ago

5179  2
Posted on Jan 31, 2019, 12 a.m.

Early in 2017 Biggest Loser fitness trainer Bob Harper had a most unexpected heart attack, many followed media reports and his journey of return to fitness and plant diet that has taught many about life after a heart attack, bringing attention to a serious condition most never even think about, until it’s too late.

After stent placement or cardiac bypass surgery all patients should be offered enrollment into a cardiac rehabilitation program which is typically located in a hospital facility, and is covered by insurance providers due to accumulated data of improved outcomes and lower medical expenses; medicare and other providers may offer another more intensive version of rehab called Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation.

Traditional cardiac rehab allows for 36 sessions focussing on exercise with some instruction other factors such as diet, and stress management. ICR allows for up to 72 sessions that incorporate exercises and indepth education on nutrition, meditation, stress management, and relationships between lifestyle on heart health, this program has also be shown to improve patient cholesterol, blood pressure, need for medication, and body weight. Typically ICR patients are provided 3-4 hours twice a week over 9 weeks training on how to exercise and how to live a healthy lifestyle which includes learning how to shop for foods, cook them, make better choices in a restaurant, quit smoking, manage stress, meditate, maintain positive relationships, and adopt a positive mindset. After 9 weeks patients are encouraged to attend regular support groups that follow their sessions; whether receiving ICR or standard care it is recommended to seek a support group for heart patients.

Transcendental Meditation involves using sound or mantra repeated effortlessly  for 20 minutes twice a day, this is a non-religious practice to promote relaxation, personal growth, and stress reduction. In a study of 201 patients with heart disease and prior heart attack over a 5 year follow up period those in the meditation group saw a 48% reduction in combined occurrence of death, heart attack, and stroke.

Patients with proven heart blockages who adhere to a plant based diet without added fats, walked more, had social support and stress management showed reductions in amounts of narrowing in their arteries according to research conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn conducted another study monitoring patients with advanced heart disease who converted to a plant based diet without added fats and oil with the similar clinical improvements documenting shrinking and reversal of heart blockages.

After a heart attack advanced lab testing may be required to find out why the event happened such as advanced lipid profiles, hs-CRP, lipoprotein (a), homocysteine, and TMAO. While some factors such as smoking may be obvious, there can be other not so obvious factors that need to be found and taken into consideration to solve the event cause and move on to recovery.

Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness is a 20 minute ultrasound of the neck that uses advanced software measurements to examine carotid arteries for hard and soft plaque, and thickness of arteries. A baseline CIMT measurement can be used to provide a yearly analysis of arterial health and as response to treatment measures.

Supplements have been studied for their impact on whether atherosclerosis may progress or decrease over time, some of which should be taken into consideration after a heart attack such as CoQ10 which is safe and widely available. Studies suggest it may be beneficial after a heart attack which is likely due to depletion of CoQ10 in cells which occurs from the heart attack and statin cholesterol lowering medication. Better recovery measures of heart function in patients recovering from a heart attack have been reported in a recent study.

Heart attacks are a major health concern regardless of age, and can be especially frightening among younger patients. Working with medical professionals to monitor standard parameters of recovery is critical. It is important to use approaches which help patients to take positive steps towards healing during recovery from this common and serious condition.

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