Recovery from a heart attack will always cost more than prevention whether in time, treasure, or permanent loss. We are profoundly grateful for Matt’s life and that he did not have any permanent damage to his heart muscle from his heart attack, which is rare, if not miraculous. As for treasure, this one event came with a hefty price tag, which we continue to navigate financially. As for time, we chose to see it as an investment rather than cost—both investing a great deal toward recovery and restored health.
When a sudden health crisis happens, it can send your mind reeling there is so much to process. Just 72 hours after he was wheeled into the cath lab, it was time to go home. As the discharge papers were prepared, we sat face to face on his hospital bed talking about the next step. He and I both understood this was a lifestyle disease and it would take a combination of exercise, supplements, and dietary changes to restore health.
- Regular exercise, is the one component all studies show makes a difference in health and preventing disease.
- Managing stress is a crucial component in recovery and overall heart health. Stress increases inflammation in the body triggering a higher production of cholesterol in the liver.
- Supplements are not a magic bullet, but a piece of a comprehensive approach to heart health. Take care to choose supplements without fillers or bad oils from a trusted source.
- Food can be a source of life-giving nutrients or a catalyst for disease. There is no shortage of heart healthy diets promoted in the marketplace. Discerning all the information requires great scrutiny and research. We will address this important element of heart health in the next post of this series.
I committed to take care of the dietary side of things, help research supplements, even exercise with him, but I needed him to own this and his health. That may sound simplistic, but it was key. We’ve all seen women who take on the role of health manager in their marriage trying to ensure their husband does all he is supposed to do or not do. They become the overseer, the director, or worse … the nag. I was determined to help him in every way I could, yet remain wife, friend, lover, and helpmeet through the healing process.
- Recovery and restored health doesn’t just happen, it requires active participation.
- Open communication is vital between you and your support system, what you expect from them and what they expect from you.
- If you are part of the support system, assist, help, encourage, but resist the urge to take over.
Matt had to take charge of his own health, which is exactly what he did. He had no desire to be on prescription drugs the rest of his life, but there was no clear path for our outside-the-box approach. While he followed the recommended medication protocol prescribed by his cardiologist, he also found a physician open to helping him meet his long-term goals. The idea was to work on those aspects contributing to inflammation, eliminating the need for the prescriptions.
Why be so determined to obtain heart health without prescriptions?
Lipitor—belongs to a group of drugs called “statins.” Lipitor reduces levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood by blocking the enzyme the liver needs to produce cholesterol. Side effects can include serious muscle, liver, and kidney problems, as well as memory loss.
Metoprolol—is in a group of drugs called beta-blockers, used to treat high blood pressure and commonly prescribed after a heart event so the heart does not work as hard during recovery. Although we could understand its short-term use after a heart attack, considering Matt did not have high blood pressure, the side effects outweigh the benefits for long-term use.
Plavix—prevents the blood from clotting, used to keep blood flowing smoothly. Side effects most often involve bleeding and bruising, such as bleeding in the intestines and stomach.
Aspirin— is a member of the group of drugs called salicylates used to treat pain, reduce fever, and prevent heart attack or stroke. Although considered safe, side effects are primarily related to its anti-platelet effects causing bleeding. Gastrointestinal bleeding is the most common serious side effect.
Managing dietary needs meant I was preparing three meals every day, at least until we got into a rhythm and healthy food choices became automatic. It was time consuming (a real labor of love) with budget considerations, new cooking methods, and resisting the urge to dine out (this can be tough after a long day). As I mentioned in the prior post, Matters of the Heart: Causes of Heart Disease, diet can be the most confusing piece to sort out. Thankfully, the regular blood tests helped confirm we were on the right track.
By the time we met with the cardiologist one year later, he agreed Matt could phase out all prescriptions. Doctor’s words, “you can’t argue with the numbers“, i.e. the blood test results. I was proud of him, he was grateful for the second chance, and we were both relieved the time and effort paid-off. Stents require that he continue taking 325 mg of aspirin, but otherwise, he manages his heart health with exercise, reduced stress, diet, and the following supplements: Niacin CRT*, Foresterol*, Homocysteine Supreme*, Lipotrienols*, cayenne, alpha-tocopheryl vitamin E, vitamin D3, krill oil, ubiquinol (CoQ10), and astaxanthin.
- You are in charge of your own health. However, only make changes to prescription medication under the care of a physician. Abrupt changes in medication can cause serious health risk.
- If you are currently taking prescription medication, consult your doctor before taking supplements as some may interfere with certain medications.
- Every article you read is an investment, research will help you ask better questions.
- Set specific goals and consider what health looks like for you. The more detailed you are about what you hope to attain, the more likely you will recognize successes along the way. Restoring health can be a long journey, small victories bring great encouragement.
*These supplements from Designs for Health are offered exclusively to health care professionals and their patients.
Note: Every individual is different and must seek medical advice from one’s own physician to determine the best course of action when recovering from a heart attack. The information on this blog is based on personal research and experience and is not intended to diagnose or prescribe for anyone else. I do hope by sharing what we have learned will in some way help or encourage others.
Next in the series on heart health: Diet, what and whom do you believe?
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