A heart attack is the mother of all wake-up calls. It is also an incredibly overwhelming experience to go through and to bounce back from. However, it IS possible to reclaim your life and prevent a heart attack from recurring. However, much like our director - Nitish Sharma, whose journey to recovery began once he decided that he had to get stronger – the power lies with you. With the some help from a treasure trove of knowledge at hand - your doctor - you can chart a course that makes you a stronger, healthier version of yourself.
However, YOU have to take the first step - inform yourself and ask the right questions to become an empowered patient/loved one who has taken charge of their recovery. Here’s some quick pointers that’ll help you do exactly that. These are meant to help you look beyond the obvious and get a little deeper in to how you can best manage this situation.
1. What Are the DOs?
Traditionally, the moment you hear the words heart attack, the most immediate reaction is drastic restrictions on all activity and dietary habits. It’s no brainer on which you’ll get directives from your physician even without asking. However, the catch is there’s a lot focus on the DON’Ts and not enough on the DO’s. Don’t eat this. Don’t do that etc. And, of course, why won’t that be the case, it’s a scary thing to happen to you or someone you care for. So, the first thing you want to know is how not to make it worse.
A slight change in perspective can, though, make A LOT of difference. Try figuring out what you can do to make it better. Instead of the all too familiar restrictions, what CAN do you to help your body cope better with this event? CAN you eat something to help it heal faster? What kind of activity will aid the recovery process?
2. Lifestyle Changes, Diet And Medication - Get Specific
Don’t fall in to the trap of blanket no’s or yes’. They might seem less complicated but an event like a heart attack calls for a lifestyle change. The more drastic the shift, the easier it is to fall off the wagon. You need to ensure that these changes have some room to accommodate your previous lifestyle or some semblance to it, in order to make this a sustainable change.
What kind of work out is ok? Can you walk around the house? Is there a pace or bpm you must maintain?
What kind of food is ok? Can you get a nutrition/diet plan to keep you on track? Do I get cheat meals? (you might not like the answer but you NEED to ask the questions)
Are there any medicines that you should be steering clear of? In case of cold, cough, fever etc
These are some examples but you need to account for all aspects of change and formulate a reasonable plan together with the doctor.
3. What Can You Do to Speed Up the Recovery: Participate in the Recovery Process
Recovery is an involved process you can either be passive recipient of treatment, checking all the mandatory boxes or you can take an active interest in the improvement of your health and work with the doctor to make the treatment more effective ... or better yet, more customised. Determine what works best for you.
Figure out what you can do to make the doctor’s job easy, what information can you give the doctor which can simplify the task of designing the treatment? Do you need a diet log? Do you need a stress test at regular intervals? Can you use a fitness tracker for daily heart rate and stress levels?
Can the doctor give you additional resources/recommendations to inform yourself better? Are there support groups/online forums that might help? Do you need cardiac rehab?
4. What Can Your Friends And Family Do – Get Everyone Involved
It all seems a little less overwhelming when everyone is in it with you. Friends and family can help you steer through and keep you true. Just as a this is an event for you, it’s a big one for them too. They might need some help figuring out where to start. Your doctor can give some directional tips on how to brave the highs and lows.
How can my friends and family help? How does this impact them? Do they need counselling/guidance to help them manage this better? Is there a community or forum they can become a part of to learn more?
5. What Does Good Look Like - Think Long Term
Heart attack, like it or not, leaves a lifelong impact; one that you need to accommodate in to your lifestyle permanently. This is why knowing where you’re going helps. Chart out a progress plan with your doctor, outlining what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to get there. A clear action plan with charted out check ups, consultations that help you monitor where you’ve reached and how far you need to go.
The thing with such a scenario is you have moving targets. Each milestone modifies the next – whatever ldl levels, heart rate your aiming for will be redefined with every upcoming check based on your progress. To be able to make a significant shift, you’ll need to have clear goal to accomplish. Discipline and clear direction just might help make the road to recovery a smooth one.
These are some ways in which you can be the driver of your own recovery. Along the process, who knows, you might discover a new passion just like Nitish did with Crossfit.
Disclaimer: This publication/editorial/article does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.