Health Topics > Learn more about Heart Attack

Learn more about Heart Attack

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do after a heart attack depends on the amount and location of damaged tissue. Your outcome is worse if the heart attack caused damage to the signaling system that tells the heart to contract.

About a third of heart attacks are deadly. If you live 2 hours after an attack, you are likely to survive, but you may have complications. Those who do not have complications may fully recover. Usually a person who has had a heart attack can slowly go back to normal activities, including sexual activity.
Possible Complications

  • Blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Damage extending past heart tissue (infarct extension), possibly leading to rupture of the heart
  • Damage to heart valves or the wall between the two sides of the heart
  • Inflammation around the lining of the heart (pericarditis)
  • Irregular heartbeats, including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation
  • Side effects of drug treatment

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Immediately call your local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms of a heart attack.
Prevention

To prevent a heart attack:

  • Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol under control.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Consider drinking 1 to 2 glasses of alcohol or wine each day. Moderate amounts of alcohol may reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems. However, drinking larger amounts does more harm than good.
  • Eat a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat.
  • Eat fish twice a week. Baked or grilled fish is better than fried fish. Frying can destroy some of the health benefits.
  • Exercise daily or several times a week. Walking is a good form of exercise. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.

If you have one or more risk factors for heart disease, talk to your doctor about possibly taking aspirin to help prevent a heart attack. Aspirin therapy (75 mg to 325 mg a day) or a drug called clopidogrel may be prescribed for women at high risk for heart disease.

Aspirin therapy is recommended for women over age 65 to prevent a heart attack and stroke. However, it is only recommended if blood pressure is controlled and the benefit is likely to outweigh the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Regular use of aspirin is not recommended for healthy women under age 65 to prevent heart attacks.

New guidelines no longer recommend hormone replacement therapy, vitamins E or C, antioxidants, or folic acid to prevent heart disease.

After a heart attack, you will need regular follow-up care to reduce the risk of having a second heart attack. Often, a cardiac rehabilitation program is recommended to help you gradually return to a normal lifestyle. Always follow the exercise, diet, and medication plan prescribed by your doctorLiver and Gallbladder Cleanse