The risk starts in the heart: a cardiac event, a heart attack, or simply a myocardial infarction is caused by damage to the blood supply to the heart muscle, which can cause substantial harm to its function and, in some circumstances, death. In the Western world, heart attacks are one of the leading causes of illness and death. The majority of them happen in persons who have coronary heart disease because of atherosclerosis, which causes narrowing and even blockage of the arteries that feed blood to the heart muscle. Every year, around 25,000 Israelis are hospitalized suffering a heart attack, some of them have had many heart attacks. But there is some good news: even if you have previously had a heart attack, you may dramatically minimize your chance of having another one by following a few simple guidelines.
High rate of recurrent events
According to Dr. Tzafrir Barak, cardiologist and head of the Heart Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation Service at Carmel Hospital, it is critical to note that the risk of recurrent cardiac events among people who have already had a cardiac event is significant, particularly in the first year. There is also an increase in the occurrence of events associated with sclerosis arteries in other parts of the body, such as stroke and peripheral vascular disease. We cannot totally prevent another incident, but we can significantly minimize the danger. There are influential risk factors that aggravate the tendency to develop atherosclerosis, which causes blood vessel narrowing, and we can influence them: these factors include, among others, smoking, obesity, hypertension, excess lipids in the blood, diabetes, poor nutrition, and a lack of physical activity. The risk of cardiovascular disease lowers as the number of imbalanced risk factors diminishes. It should be remembered that some risk factors, including as age, gender, family history, and genetic components, cannot be changed. However, it is crucial to note that studies have shown that even individuals with "Bad" genetics who keep a healthy and balanced lifestyle may dramatically lower their risk.
The lifestyle that may reduce the risk of a repeat heart attack
How can the risk of recurrence of cardiac events be reduced?
Of course, a healthy lifestyle is the starting point.
Dr. Barak stated that you do not need to be an expert doctor to understand the principles of living a healthy lifestyle. First and foremost, smoking should be avoided. Smokers account for almost two-thirds of young persons under the age of 50 who have a subsequent heart attack owing to a blocked coronary artery. The most effective measure in avoiding cardiovascular disease is to avoid or quit smoking. The issue is that, despite significant efforts by healthcare providers, smoking cessation rates after a heart attack is low. It is not simple to quit smoking, but there are several methods for dealing with this challenging problem, with some success. A healthy lifestyle also includes following the principles of balanced food, keeping a normal body weight, and engaging in regular physical activity. We advise anyone whose clinical condition is stable after a cardiac event to engage in regular physical activity, particularly aerobic activity, with a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity, preferably spread out over several days during the week.
What about nutrition?
It is critical to maintaining a healthy diet, with the recommendation being to follow the Mediterranean diet principles, which include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed foods, reducing sugars, sugary drinks, and simple carbohydrates, and replacing them with whole grains and legumes. In addition, poultry and fish are chosen over red meat and processed meat, dairy products are used in moderation, and healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil and almonds are consumed.
According to Dr. Barak, a nutritious diet is vital in and of itself, but it seldom has the power to dramatically decrease blood cholesterol levels in those who have high cholesterol. When it comes to preventing a recurrence incident in terms of cholesterol, a change in lifestyle alone is insufficient. Because decreasing cholesterol to very low levels postpones the formation of atherosclerosis and lowers the risk of future occurrences, pharmacological therapy is required, even in people with normal cholesterol levels who have had a heart attack.
Why is drug treatment so important, despite the careful maintenance of a healthy lifestyle?
It is vital to combine pharmacological therapy for many of the risk factors, which has been shown in large controlled trials to reduce morbidity, whether it be drug treatment for diabetes, hypertension, or cholesterol reduction. This, of course, is in conjunction with healthier lives.
With a finger on the pulse
Dr. Barak emphasizes the necessity of drug therapy that is directly connected to the numerous risk factors, as well as drug treatment whose direct purpose is to lower the risk of repeated cardiac episodes. Following a heart attack, patients are given low-dose aspirin for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, every patient who has a cardiac event and an interventional catheterization must take another platelet-inhibiting medicine for a specified length of time following the catheterization to limit the chance of clot formation and stent obstruction. If there is a decline in heart function after a cardiac event or when heart failure occurs, there are medications that can assist preserve cardiac function. Hospitals in Israel make every effort to keep their finger on the pulse. Patients get a careful and supportive framework as part of cardiac rehabilitation programs offered in Israeli hospitals, with the goal of preventing the next attack or, at the very least, greatly reducing the risk.
According to Dr. Barak, everybody who has had a heart attack is advised to enroll in a cardiac rehabilitation program, which is covered by the health basket for three months following a heart attack, interventional catheterization or heart surgery, or hospitalization for heart failure. Physical activity is normally conducted at the rehabilitation clinic twice a week. ECG monitoring, supervision, and training are provided by a multidisciplinary team consisting of a cardiologist, cardiac critical care nurse, exercise physiologist, physical trainers, nutritionists, and rehabilitation psychologist. This framework enables the patient to recover to optimal function as soon as possible and has been scientifically demonstrated to lower the risk of future cardiac episodes and even death. Unfortunately, the number of people who participate in cardiac rehabilitation programs is minimal, accounting for only around 20-30% of those who are eligible for this treatment. Finally, there is, of course, each patient's personal duty.
He stated that frequent medical follow-ups with the family doctor, who plays a significant role in the overall picture of the patient's co-morbidity and risk factors, as well as periodic follow-ups with the attending cardiologist, are essential.