What Are Your Chances of Having a Second Heart Attack?

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Arthur Okere, M.D.

You’ve recently had a heart attack and are fearful about having a second one. Your fear is valid. About 1 in 5 people who have had a heart attack will be readmitted to the hospital for a second one within five years, according to the American Heart Association. The organization also says that there are about 335,000 recurrent heart attacks each year in the United States.

But you don’t have to become a statistic. You can take steps to avoid a second heart attack, says Arthur Okere, M.D., an interventional cardiology specialist at Bayshore Medical Center and Ocean University Medical Center. You have to be proactive, though.

“After the initial heart attack, it’s all about mitigating your risks and changing your habits,” he says.”

Keep up With Medications

First and foremost, Dr. Okere says, take your medication.

“Once we place a stent in your heart after a heart attack, we also put you on medication that not only ensures the longevity of the stent, but also reduces the likelihood of another heart attack happening,” he says.

In addition to possible blood thinners, a beta blocker and aspirin, your doctor may prescribe a high-dose statin.

“Once you have a heart attack, you should be on a statin for life, and it has to be a high-dose, even if you don’t have high cholesterol,” Dr. Okere says.

Continue Seeing Your Doctor

Dr. Okere also recommends continuing to see your doctor regularly to monitor your blood pressure and to discuss any possible symptoms that could signal a recurrence.

Make Some Lifestyle Changes

There are a few lifestyle changes you should make in order to prevent a second heart attack.

First, look at your diet. Sometimes even when we think we’re eating healthy, we’re not, Dr. Okere says. “American diets are often filled with hidden saturated fats and cholesterol,” he says. “And many people tend to over-eat, too.”

Here are his recommended lifestyle changes:

  • Lower your intake of fatty, fried, cholesterol-laden foods
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Quit smoking
  • Control your stress level
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise

“The heart is a muscle, and staying active is essential to keeping it strong and healthy,” Dr. Okere says.

Monitor Other Conditions

If you have other comorbidities, such as diabetes, it’s critical to keep those under control, too. Monitor your blood sugar levels, and keep your blood pressure down.

In his own practice, Dr. Okere says, if heart attack patients are compliant with their medications and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s rare to see a second full-blown heart attack.

“Of course it could happen, but it’s not that common if patients take the right steps to improve their health,” he says.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

Share

HealthU

eNewsLetter Sign Up to receive the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic

Are Heart Attacks Hereditary?

Cardiovascular risk can be inherited from one generation to the next. Here’s what you should know about screening and lowering your risk.

Are Heart Palpitations Normal?

Are heart palpitations normal? The answer depends on several factors, including how often palpitations occur and if they disrupt your day-to-day activities.

RECIPE: Heart Healthy Hummus

Here’s a quick recipe that you can use as a base to create all sorts of tasty treats that are good for your heart.

Top Advice for Improving Heart Health

We all know that keeping our hearts healthy is vital for overall good health and to live a long, physically active life. But there’s a lot of information floating around about how to achieve optimal heart health. 

X
We use cookies to improve your site experience. By using this site,
you agree to our Terms & Conditions. Also, please read our Privacy Policy.
Accept All Cookies