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Heart Attacks

What is a heart attack?

Just like the rest of your body, your heart needs a continuous supply of blood. A heart attack happens when there is a sudden reduction, or loss, of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle.1

This mostly happens due fatty deposits forming on the artery lining, breaking off and causing damage, leading to the formation of a clot.1

If the clot blocks the artery supplying the heart it can cause a heart attack, if a clot forms in a vessel supplying the brain it can cause a stroke.1

Heart attack clot vessel

What happens to the heart after a heart attack?

A heart attack always causes some permanent damage to the heart muscle and if you’ve had one heart attack, unfortunately you’re at risk of having another one, or a stroke.1 That’s why it’s important for people to take action to prevent any future problems by looking after themselves and their heart health.

YOUR RECOVERY

Recovering from a heart attack

The time it takes to recover depends on the amount of damage to the heart muscle. Recovery involves reducing the risk of having another heart attack through lifestyle changes and medications as well as gradually building up physical fitness.

FORTUNATELY, THERE ARE THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO TO MANAGE YOUR RISK OF FURTHER DAMAGE TO YOUR HEART AND AID YOUR RECOVERY

Looking after your heart

There are a number of things people can do to significantly reduce their risk of another heart attack.

These include:2

 

 

 

TAKING PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS AS DIRECTED BY YOUR DOCTOR
NOT SMOKING
A HEALTHY BODYWEIGHT
REGULAR EXERCISE
EATING A HEALTHY DIET
LOW ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

Will it happen again?

It’s impossible to know if someone will have another heart attack, but having one does increase the risk of having another.3

 

The good news it that there are things that can help reduce the likelihood of this happening.

 

Information provided on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT WHICH APPROACHES WOULD BE BEST FOR YOU

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

When to talk to your doctor
How to talk to your doctor
Cardiology technical language

After you’ve had a heart attack it’s important to be clear on what to expect and what you can do to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of future problems.

 

If there is anything that isn’t clear especially if it’s about how you should be taking care of yourself, make an appointment with your doctor to ask them any questions you have.

Talking to your doctor might seem daunting, but they are there to help you on the road to recovery after a heart attack. You may find the following tips helpful:4

  • Prepare before you visit using reliable sources of info – this will help you have an informed conversation about your recovery goals
  • Bring a short list of queries ready for your appointment – it can really help you organise your thoughts and helps your doctor prioritise your questions
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your risk, treatment options or lifestyle changes – some people worry that they aren’t allowed to, but this isn’t the case
  • Ask them to explain what medical terms mean – some people can find it difficult to understand these.

 

If you don’t understand their answer, ask them to explain again or in a different way

 

 

 

Your doctor may use terms like "MI," "STEMI" or "NSTEMI."

 

'MI' stands for 'myocardial infarction' - this is the medical term for a heart attack.

 

Heart attacks (or 'MIs') are often divided into 'STEMIs' or 'NSTEMIs' - here, the 'STE' and the 'NSTE' before 'MI' refer to the different types of electrical wave produced by the heart during a heart attack.

 

Ask your doctor to clarify if you’re unsure.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR HEART ATTACK RECOVERY GOALS