Heart Attack Prevention & Treatment

Published: February 1, 2012

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How to Prevent Against This

Be prepared to make substantial lifestyle changes if you want to keep yourself heart attack-free.

Make sure that you visit your doctor at least once a year for a routine physical exam. Your doctor will conduct a series of tests and ask you several lifestyle questions to determine whether you are at risk for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Typically these three conditions run in the family, so you should have the information necessary to keep your doctor informed.

If you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol, you will need to keep these conditions under control through a combination of diet, exercise, and medications. Even half an hour of walking every day can help reduce your risk.

If you are overweight, you should lose enough weight for a healthy body mass index (BMI). If you are at high risk, a doctor might put you on a daily aspirin regimen.

Diet Tips

Avoid foods that contribute to high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Fatty, sugary, and salty foods are all bad for health and can cause conditions to worsen.

Eat a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber. Fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal are all great options. Don't eat too much meat and processed foods like crackers and baked goods.

Your diet should include plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are available in fish or as supplements. Many experts recommend that you eat fish twice a week for a heart-healthy diet.

Avoid smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Some studies suggest that drinking a small amount of wine every day can help lower cholesterol. The recommended amount is two glasses for men and one glass for women.

Treatment & Relief Methods

When you have a heart attack, a doctor will begin treating you immediately using aspirin, nitroglycerin, and oxygen. Other treatments might be necessary if your heart attack is severe. The medical team will give you oxygen even if your levels are normal so that your body will not need to work as hard.

You will probably need to be hospitalized overnight so that the doctor can monitor your heart using an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. If you have an arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, a doctor will treat you with additional medications or electrical cardioversion/defibrillation.

Common Surgeries

Doctors will need to perform surgery if your heart attack reveals any underlying medical complications. You might need bypass surgery or a pacemaker to keep your heart beat steady. Heart transplants are necessary when the damage to the heart is so severe that it stops functioning properly, even with medication and treatment.

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