What Has Just Happened?

You’ve Had a Heart Attack

Having been in your position, I know that right now you will be shocked, tired, afraid, confused and frustrated. These are all normal feelings after a heart attack. Let me start to guide you through the next few steps.

As a reminder – this is not a medical document. My aim is to guide you through the coming weeks from a patients’ point of view.

Putting it simply; a heart attack doesn’t mean your heart is worn out or has given up, it means that something has got in the way of the blood flow.  When this happens, when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen, that section of heart muscle begins to die. This is a heart attack.

The doctors sometimes call a heart attack a Myocardial Infarction or MI so don’t get confused if your hear this term

I had a blood clot, where has it gone?

If you’ve been told that your heart attack was caused by a blood clot, I can see why you might worry where it’s going next. Don’t worry, the clot has probably already gone because of the medicines and treatment you will have been given, and if not, your body’s natural clot-busters will dissolve it over the coming weeks and it won’t do any harm in the meantime.

I’m hooked up to heart monitors, why?

After any heart ‘event’ you are at risk for a couple of days of your heart complaining and going into an ‘electrical storm’. The proper word for this is cardiac arrest. If you are hooked up to a heart monitor it will be keeping an eye on your hearts’ behaviour. If it starts to misbehave, the doctors can deal with it quickly and safely. After a day or so, the risk of your heart misbehaving goes down dramatically and you will probably be taken off the monitor.

Will my heart get better?

We are all different and of course I am not qualified to comment on any medical case. What I can help you understand is that the heart has miraculous powers of recovery and I am living proof of that.

During my heart attacks, my heart sustained a shocking amount of damage that the doctors said I couldn’t possibly survive. Very happily, I proved them all wrong and here I am writing this article for you feeling proud of myself and smiling as I write. So, please have hope!

Will I have more heart attacks?

Many people assume that once you’ve had one heart attack, they will keep coming until the day you die. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Actually it’s very unusual for a person to have a whole series of heart attacks.

Remember, your heart is the strongest muscle in your body, no other muscle keeps working for 24 hours a day! Therefore, even though it has suffered a blockage, it can still be pretty fit.

The Good News

The good news is you are one of the lucky ones because you survived your heart attack, so you must have been doing something right!

The other great news is that you are now in ‘the system’. I speak regularly to heart patients up and the down the country and I have come to realise that we have one of the best health care systems in place for heart health. Medicines and techniques are mind-bogglingly wonderful and can counteract the symptoms of heart problems amazingly well.

You will be put on medication that will help to keep your heart relaxed, cut down on scar tissue and help prevent further problems.

So, your neighbour at home, who is breathing a sigh of relief because this happened to you and not him, may be smiling under false pretences. Not that we would wish this trauma on anyone else, but actually you are now in a much better position than before your heart attack. I know it doesn’t feel like it emotionally, but physically you are. This heart attack was going to happen to you and before it did, no-one could have predicted what the outcome would be.

But you survived your heart attack. It could have gone the other way, but it didn’t.

You survived your heart attack and now you are on the right track for recovery.

You are in ‘the system’ so will be looked after forever more. You are now taking all the preventative and heart protecting medication and you will now have the choice to make any lifestyle changes to enhance your prognosis.