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Heart Disease Health Center

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Understanding Heart Attack: Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Heart Attack? continued...

People recovering from a heart attack are urged to get back on their feet as quickly as possible, which reduces the chances of blood clots forming in the deep veins of the legs, called a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. These clots could travel through the circulatory system and lodge in the lung, creating a blockage. Gentle exercise is recommended, but nothing that requires significant exertion.

Some patients require further invasive procedures to improve blood flow to the heart. The two most common procedures are angioplasty -- a catheter technique that widens clogged arteries by breaking up plaques -- and coronary bypass surgery, which diverts blood flow around clogged arteries.

What Is the Outlook After a Heart Attack?

Long-term recovery from heart attack requires psychological and lifestyle adjustments: Quitting smoking is very important. Most heart attack survivors take a daily aspirin tablet to thin the blood and help prevent future heart attacks. Other drugs may also be prescribed, depending on the person’s condition.

Exercise After Heart Attack

Regular, aerobic exercise greatly enhances efforts to recover from a heart attack -- and prevent a future heart attack. If you already have a heart condition, discuss a stress test with your doctor before beginning an exercise program to determine how much exertion is safe. Heart attack survivors are advised to exercise with other people rather than alone during the first months of recovery. Many hospitals and community health and recreation centers offer doctor-supervised cardiac rehabilitation programs, which can teach you about safe exercise and how to reach your target heart rate.

Mind/Body Medicine

Stress may be one of the risk factors you can control to help prevent heart attack and aid in recovery. Many techniques -- such as meditation, biofeedback, and yoga -- work by training the mind and body to relax. Relaxation has also been shown to provide relief from pain, which may be encountered during the recovery period.

Attitude is another consideration in heart attack recovery. People with a positive attitude about recovery tend to do much better. You may find that a particular mind-body technique helps you to focus on positive thoughts. You may also find, as many others have, that sharing thoughts and emotions with a support group is extremely beneficial.

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