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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A myocardial infarction (MI) is a heart attack. A heart attack happens when the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart (coronary arteries) are blocked. This can damage your heart. It can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure, or may become life-threatening.
You may need any of the following:
- Heart medicines help decrease blood pressure, control your heart rate, and help your heart function better.
- Nitroglycerin opens the arteries to your heart, increases oxygen levels, and can decrease chest pain. You may get your nitroglycerin as a pill, a patch, or a paste. Ask your primary healthcare provider (PHP) or cardiologist how to safely take this medicine.
- Aspirin helps prevent clots from forming and causing blood flow problems. If caregivers want you to take aspirin daily, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than caregivers say to take. If you are on another blood thinner medicine, ask your PHP or cardiologist before you take aspirin for any reason.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots from forming. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver.
- Be aware of what medicines you take. Many medicines cannot be used when taking medicine to thin your blood. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take blood-thinning medicine. Wear or carry medical alert information that says you are taking this medicine.
- Take this medicine exactly as your PHP tells you. Tell him right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much. You may need to have regular blood tests while on this medicine. Your PHP uses these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you.
- Talk to your PHP about your diet. This medicine works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and other foods, such as cooked peas and kiwifruit.
- Cholesterol medicine decreases cholesterol and the amount of plaque in your blood.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your PHP if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab)
is a program run by specialists who will help you safely strengthen your heart and prevent more heart disease. The plan includes exercise, relaxation, stress management, and heart-healthy nutrition. Healthcare providers will also check to make sure any medicines you take are working. The plan may also include instructions for when you can drive, return to work, and do other normal daily activities.
Follow up with your PHP or cardiologist within 14 days or as directed:
Ask for information about continuing care, treatments, and home services. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Go to cardiac rehabilitation as directed. This is a program run by specialists who will help you safely strengthen your heart and prevent more heart disease. This plan includes exercise, relaxation, stress management, and heart-healthy nutrition. Caregivers will also check to make sure any medicines you are taking are working. The plan may also include instructions for when you can drive, return to work, and do other normal daily activities.
- Eat a heart healthy diet. Get enough calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals to help prevent poor nutrition and promote muscle strength. You may be told to eat foods low in cholesterol or sodium (salt). You also may be told to limit saturated and trans fats. Eat foods that contain healthy fats, such as walnuts, salmon, and canola and soybean oils. Eat foods that help protect the heart, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and sources of fiber.
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk of another MI.
- Exercise. Ask your PHP or cardiologist about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise makes your heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and helps prevent an MI. The goal is 30 to 60 minutes a day, 5 to 7 days a week. Ask your PHP or cardiologist how often and how long to exercise.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your PHP or cardiologist how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Manage your stress. Stress may slow healing and lead to illness. Learn ways to control stress, such as relaxation, deep breathing, and music. Talk to someone about things that upset you.
- Get a flu vaccine every year as soon as it is available. The vaccine will help prevent the flu. Ask about other vaccinations you may need.
Contact your PHP or cardiologist if:
- You have trouble taking your heart medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
- You are tired and cannot think clearly.
- Your heart is beating faster than usual.
- You are bleeding from your gums or nose.
- You see blood in your urine or bowel movements.
- You urinate less than usual or not at all.
- You have new or increased swelling in your feet or ankles.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.