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What to do After Surviving a Heart Attack
Over the last 60 years the death rate from heart disease and stroke has declined by more than 75 per cent, and now the vast majority of Canadians who have a heart attack, or stroke, will survive.
The even better news is that up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented. There are healthy behaviours all Canadians can adopt that can help to prevent a heart attack or stroke in the first place and can help survivors avoid another incident.
Heart-smart tips for a healthy ticker
Eat a healthy diet. Follow the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide, including eating between five and 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day.
Be physically active. Try to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, that's less than half an hour a day.
Be smoke free.
Manage stress. Identify the source of your stress, talk to friends and family, and take time for yourself.
Limit alcohol consumption. Women should limit themselves to no more than two drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of 10, and men to three drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of 15.
Ask the Expert
Each year, about 70,000 heart attacks happen in Canada. Fortunately, in more than 90 per cent of cases, the person will survive. Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and author of Heart Health for Canadians, sheds light on what survivors should keep in mind as they enter this next stage in their life.
Q: My husband recently had a heart attack and I'm worried it could happen again. What can we do to help prevent another incident?
A: Once you've had a heart attack you are at increased risk for another. Which is why it's even more important to take your medication and make some lifestyle changes. Adopting healthy behaviours can help lower your husband's risk and help you make healthy changes at the same time. These include exercising regularly (at least 150 minutes each week), eating a healthy diet (five to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day) and reducing stress. Being smoke free is also really important as is limiting alcohol consumption. Take these changes one step at a time.
Also, a cardiac rehabilitation program can help your husband recover to the best extent possible and support him to adopt and maintain healthy changes. Rehabilitation makes survivors feel better and improves their quality of life. Taking advantage of these programs when available is essential because they are shown to improve participants' health and to lower mortality by as much as 25 per cent. If he has not been sent on to a cardiac rehabilitation program ask your doctor to do so.
Thanks to medical developments over the past 60 years, we are making progress and reducing the odds of serious problems in people who suffer a heart attack. Advances in prevention, surgical procedures and drug therapies have helped make this possible â€“ many of which were supported by research funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Since its inception, the Foundation has committed more than $1.39 billion to heart and stroke research, and helped create the 165,000 survivors of heart disease and stroke who went home to their families last year.
To learn more visit heartandstroke.ca.