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Heart Attack

How Does a Heart Attack Change Your Life?

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Summary & Participants

After you've already suffered from a heart attack, you are at high risk for a second. Tune in to learn how to help prevent a second heart attack.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: After a person has experienced a heart attack, a full recovery can depend on what happens as soon as they leave the hospital.

DAVID F. KONG, MD: When you leave the hospital, you usually are able to walk, climb stairs and do other things necessary to be safe at home. So as a result, it's important to provide patients with cardiac rehabilitation, supervised exercise that's designed to train the remaining heart muscle to be able to sustain the needs of the patient.

ANNOUNCER: Sometimes the period after a heart attack can be difficult for patients.

DAVID R. HOLMES, Jr., MD: After having a myocardial infarction, a heart attack, there are good changes that can happen and there are bad changes. Depression is a significant problem. Someone comes in with a heart attack that had felt fine, and all of a sudden now their life has changed because they've had a heart attack. And so depression is often unrecognized, often undertreated, but is a major problem following a heart attack.

ANNOUNCER: Preventing a second heart attack is a priority for patients. They will need to control cholesterol levels through diet, increase physical activity on a gradual basis and avoid tobacco products and secondhand smoke. And medications also play a part in prevention.

DAVID R. HOLMES, Jr., MD: The medications that are the standby medications that now become part of the patient's life indefinitely would be continued use of aspirin, number one; would be one of the group of medications called statins, which lower cholesterol, and they have other effects, and they should be on that. We oftentimes prescribe a beta blocker, which makes the heart a little bit more efficient. And then what's called an ACE inhibitor, which lowers the blood pressure, but it also stabilizes the blood vessel wall.

ANNOUNCER: Most people can resume their normal activities in a short period of time.

DAVID R. HOLMES, Jr., MD: We know that with the treatments that we currently provide for patients, they're getting back to work much sooner. In the past, it used to be with a myocardial infarction, a heart attack, patients would be put to bed rest for a long time, weeks. Now we get them up, moving. We have them be involved with physical therapy and exercise training very early on. So within a matter of a few weeks, many patients can return to not physical labor, but to doing other tasks that might be work-related.

Our goals are to improve the patient's function and to return them to a fully satisfactory life. We're not going to make them younger. Whatever age they are, they are. But we can improve the quality of their life, and hopefully the quantity of their life.

Video - What is a Heart Attack? Transcript