Once you have a heart attack, the chances of having a second one are almost double, largely due to the damage done to the heart. A heart attack is caused by blocked blood flow to a section of the heart, resulting in damage to heart muscle.
Why do heart attacks occur?
According to DiCardiology, a heart attack strikes someone about every 40 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries caused by fat and cholesterol. Plaques can become vulnerable through a biological process of inflammation and rupture. Plaque rupture leads to the formation of blood clots made up of platelets and red blood cells that block the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.
A heart attack is often confused with sudden cardiac arrest – the disruption of the heart’s pumping action that stops blood flow to the rest of the body and causes loss of consciousness, absence of pulse, and (if the heart cannot be re-started) death, Southern Cross Medical explains.
Essentially, the weakened heart is now left vulnerable. If the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood, part of the heart will die in what is called an infarct.
But there are ways to strengthen the heart and lower the risk of a second attack.
How do I decrease my chances of another attack?
The best course of action would be to get healthy! Stop smoking as smoking affects blood flow – yes this includes being around second hand smoke.
Exercise to get the blood flowing and to strengthen the heart muscle. Start slowly though and build your resistance over time. Too much strenuous activity at once could be damaging.
Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Eat as healthy a diet as possible, with very little salt! Add plenty of fruit and veggies, grains and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
And of course, limit alcohol.