Myocardial infarction (heart attack) is a serious and most severe form of coronary artery disease characterized by the damage to a part of the heart muscle caused by decreased or stopped blood flow to this area which is provoked by the occlusion of the coronary artery supplying it with blood.

Nowadays all methods of rehabilitation of post-infarction patients can be divided into two main groups that should be used together – rehabilitation with the use of medications and lifestyle alterations. So, what lifestyle changes a person who has suffered from myocardial infarction should expect?

Important lifestyle changes include:

  • Dietary changes. The main goal should be to lower the blood levels of cholesterol and other atherogenic lipids while maintaining adequacy of the dietary intake. It’s recommended to choose diet with low content of saturated fats and cholesterol (no fast food!) and high in vegetables, fruit and cereal products that could provide the body with required vitamins, minerals, fiber and complex carbohydrates. There are some principle rules to remember:
    • Regular consumption of various vegetables and fruit – at least 5 servings per day. One serving is one apple/banana/orange/pear/teaspoon of dried fruit or two kiwi/plums.
    • Moderate consumption of dairy products – low-fat milk, cheeses, yogurts, etc.
    • Moderate consumption of lean meat – turkey, chicken, rabbit, veal, etc.
    • Giving preference to fish (including fatty species like salmon, tuna, sardine, trout) instead of meat at least two or three times per week.
    • Reduced consumption of sugar (sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets) and salt.
    • Lowered consumption of alcoholic beverages.
    • Replacing animal fat with vegetable oils (sunflower, olive) in your cooking habits .
  • Adequate physical activity. It’s important to be physically active every day - everyday activities like housekeeping, seasonal work in the garden, walking the stairs instead of using elevator and walking whenever possible are very beneficial. For the patients after myocardial infarction, exercise regimen should be tailored individually taking into account the functional condition of the cardiovascular system. Researchers claim that patients who adhere to recommendations concerning diet and exercise changes have a 54% lower risk of developing another cardiac event after acute myocardial infarction. Remember to discuss your exercising regimen with your doctor because inadequate physical activity can lead to complications.
  • Quitting smoking. According to researchers, those smokers who quit smoking have a 43% lower risk of recurrent cardiac events half a year after acute myocardial infarction. Smokers should remember that quitting smoking can cause increased appetite leading to weight gain; therefore, healthy diet and exercising are even more important. There are two groups of “quit-smokers” after myocardial infarction:
    • those who having survived myocardial infarction and experienced death anxiety can easily give up this harmful habit without any help;
    • those who require support from their friends and family so they could give up smoking. Sometimes they might need to undergo a nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Body weight control. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance - those factors that considerably heighten risks for cardiovascular disease. Controlling calorie intake, good nutrition and physical activity are the only method that can help to maintain a healthy weight.
Author's Bio: 

Richard Johnson contributes to and is glad to share information about heart health.