A heart attack, the consequences afterwards

A heart attack turns life completely upside down. If you even survive, it means your life would never be the same again. After all, you are now a heart patient, with medications and the associated side effects. But the environment will also encounter a new situation. I have tried to describe here as completely as possible what life after a heart attack entails for both the victim and those around them.

The hospital

If you have a heart attack, it is important that you get to the hospital as quickly as possible. An operation is often required in which the blocked blood vessel is angioplasty or a bypass is made. Afterwards you will often be in cardiac care for a few more days, after which you can slowly get out of bed and if everything goes well and you can walk independently, get dressed, etc., then you can usually go home. With a by-pass this takes longer than with an angioplasty, because of the greater surgical damage.

At home, what then?

Nowadays, a cardiac rehabilitation program is being drawn up more and more often. However, this often only starts 6 weeks after the operation. In the intervening weeks, you will have time to regain your strength. The response to a heart attack varies greatly and depends on age, size of the infarction, time to the operating table, etc. Some people have no further problems after their infarction and can resume their normal lives. Others, however, are disabled for the rest of their lives. This limitation can manifest itself in mental aspects such as concentration, stress resistance and social skills or in physical aspects such as endurance, strength and the possibility of intensive sports. Usually a heart attack and the subsequent operation is a huge attack on the condition, but especially on the mind. You soon realize that it could easily have gone away and (in most cases) that you might have been able to prevent it if you had adjusted your lifestyle earlier. After returning home from the hospital, it is mainly about getting stronger and carefully reactivating.

Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation often takes place in the hospital, but there are also more and more health centers that offer aftercare. Complete cardiac rehabilitation consists of:

  • Inventory of risk factors such as weight, smoking, diabetes, stress, cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Building fitness and strength by a physiotherapist.
  • Information and/or guidance by a dietician.
  • Possibly conversations with a psychologist.

In addition, people often cautiously start work again. In consultation with a company doctor, the work will be examined and a plan will be made for reintegration into work.

Long-term consequences

The long-term consequences vary greatly from individual to individual. There are cases where someone can simply resume their daily life and, apart from some medication, notice no difference from their life before the heart attack. However, most people have to change their lives to a greater or lesser extent. Lifestyle adjustments are often necessary after a heart attack. Quitting smoking, improving diet and exercising more are things that need to be integrated into one’s life. In addition, your physical and mental resilience may have decreased and many medications have unpleasant side effects. This is a difficult period for most, because they have to change their entire lives and accept new limitations. The initially great interest from friends and family also quickly diminishes.

Consequences for the immediate environment

Not only the victim, but also the environment can notice the long-term consequences of the infarction. In addition to the fact that you want to provide as much support as possible to a loved one, you also have to deal with changing a life. It can be terribly unpleasant to see how someone has to fight against themselves and is thrown back again and again because they cannot accept their new limitations. It is also true that someone changes as a result of such an infarction and that is not always in a positive way. It is then very difficult for the environment to determine whether or not someone can do something about it.
A heart attack can turn your entire life upside down, but a strong environment and the motivation to come out of it well can do a lot.

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