Patient DS knows she should have seen the warning signs. When she looked back at 2018, the year she suffered a stroke, the 56-year-old principal recalls “an overworked, dedicated professional who deprioritized her health and remained in denial”. “I had let my blood pressure go uncontrolled, and I remained chronically stressed and inactive for too long,” she says. She knew she was playing with her health but got caught in the vicious cycle of taking care of the world and not herself. Post-stroke, and lost her ability to freely move her dominant hand and lower limb, there is much she shares she would do differently.

It’s no surprise that many people feel scared, confused and overwhelmed after a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke) which are life-changing events. After your treatment, you likely received instructions and a lot of information from your doctor. With time to reflect, you may be trying to understand what happened. You are sure to want to know what you can do to avoid heart problems in the future. Navigating the road to recovery isn’t easy. Questions, confusion, uncertainty and even fear are common.

Make prevention your first priority

After a first heart attack or stroke, most people go on to live a long, productive life. However, around 20% of patients age 45 and older will have another heart attack within five years of their first.

5 ways to prevent another heart attack

– Take your medications as prescribed. Certain medicines can greatly lower your risk of another cardiac event. That’s why it’s important for you to understand your medicines and take them correctly.

– Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments will help your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery.

– Participate in cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised programme designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital – if you didn’t, ask your doctor about it.

– Get support. It’s normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or from people who have also experienced a heart attack can help you cope.

– Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, it’s important to manage risk factors (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes) by taking medications, quitting smoking, eating healthy food and getting active.

Look out for HEALTH PLUS every Tuesday for more informative and healthful articles. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic, please email [email protected]