Diet After Heart Attack: Recovery Period & What Foods To Avoid?

The human heart comprises of special kind of muscular tissue, which allows the heart to contract almost 72 times a minute, throughout the life span of an individual. This myocardial tissue, like any other muscle tissue, requires constant supply of nutrients and oxygen, in order to function adequately. Partial or temporary interruption of supply of blood to the cardiac tissue can lead to ischemia.

Myocardial infarction or heart attack is a term used for damage to cardiac muscle tissue due to ischemia (or lack of blood supply). Once damaged, the cardiac tissue cannot regenerate. This in turn compromises the functioning of the heart.

Estimates from across the world indicate that ischemic heart disease is one of the leading causes of death. Faulty dietary practices, lack of exercise due to sedentary life style, smoking, consumption of alcohol, etc have significantly contributed to the rise in prevalence of heart attacks. Fortunately, not all forms of heart attacks or myocardial infarction are fatal.

Recovery Period After A Heart Attack

In the event of a heart attack, immediate medical intervention can help improve the overall prognosis of the event.

Typically, an individual with a heart attack may be hospitalized for three to seven days. Hospital stay depends upon the severity of the attack, age of the individual, general health status, etc. Usually, a complete recovery takes about two to three months. Following the initial week or two of hospitalization, the rest of the rehabilitation takes place at home.

During the rehabilitation phase, cardiac patients usually experience a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. These symptoms include tiredness, anxiety and apprehension, anger, depression, etc. Physical symptoms of weakness and tiredness are attributed to the damage to the heart tissue. Most of the symptoms fade away with time, provided the right approach to deal with the coronary artery disease is taken.

What Foods To Eat And Avoid After A Heart Attack?

Experts suggest five key strategies to deal with cardiac disorders and reduce the effects of coronary artery disease,

  1. Increase the intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain and legumes. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and other essential micro-nutrients. Whole grains and legumes are loaded with dietary fiber and proteins. Consume fresh fruits or fresh fruit juices and avoid canned or tinned juices. Tinned or canned foods are devoid of nutrients and loaded with preservatives.
  2. Limit the intake of fat calories. Avoid hydrogenated or refined oils. Instead opt for non hydrogenated vegetable oils. Hydrogenation is a process which is aimed at stabilizing vegetable oils. Hydrogenation converts unsaturated fatty acids into saturated fatty acids. This is unhealthy for the heart and the vascular system.  Alternatively include olive oil or natural coconut oil in your diet.
  3. Experts suggest that intake of complex carbohydrates helps deal with cardiac condition. Simple carbohydrates like starch (potato, rice, etc), are easily digested and increase blood sugar levels rapidly. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are more difficult to digest. As a result complex carbohydrates don’t cause spikes in blood sugar level and ensure sustained release of energy.
  4. Reduce the intake of sodium/ salt in your diet. Increase the intake of calcium, potassium and magnesium in the diet.
  5. Ensure that you consume the right amount and type of protein foods. Protein hastens recovery of the cardiac muscles and also provides energy and overcomes tiredness.

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