Tag Archives: Heart Attack

5 Things You Need to Do After a Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest

Tips for Maintaining Whole-Body Wellness After Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Regular readers of this blog know that heart attacks and cardiac arrest are not the same; however, some may be surprised to learn that a heart attack may lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA.) In what seems like a cruel twist of fate, it’s not at all uncommon for SCA to follow a heart attack. The greatest risk of a post-heart attack SCA is during the first 30 days after a heart attack (Duke Clinical Research Institute). Take heart: in this post, we’ll share a few tips and resources so that you can get back to living your best life and reduce the risk of post heart attack cardiac arrest.

Find a Support Network

If you’re feeling worried and anxious after your cardiac event, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Many heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest survivors experience a host of emotions ranging from joyful gratitude to fear and trepidation. Life after a heart attack or SCA can be overwhelming, and for some may even feel uncertain.

It’s very common for heart attack and SCA survivors to experience anger, depression, denial, and anxiety. These feelings typically last for two to six months,and it’s important to recognize them and deal with them by seeking help. Your doctor should be able to recommend a mental health specialist who specializes in cardiac recovery. Let your loved ones know how you’re feeling, too. They can’t fully support you if they don’t know how you’re feeling.

For the first few weeks, it may be comforting to have someone nearby to help and support you. If you don’t have friends or loved ones who can stay with you, ask your care team to recommend resources near you. In the meantime, here are a few online resources to get you started:

Set Goals for Healthy Living

To minimize the risk of SCA or of having another heart attack — and to maximize your chances for a full recovery — it’s critically important to begin a regular fitness and activity routine as soon as possible. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting an exercise regime!

A few months ago we wrote a blog entitled 5 Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease, and while the strategies covered in the post are great for preventing a heart attack, they apply equally well to life after a cardiac event:

  • Eat a diet low in animal proteins, high in fiber, and rich with fruits vegetables.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, make a commitment to lose weight.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Develop a physician-approved exercise program.
  • Get plenty of rest.

“A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods. Choose a diet that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats” (American Heart Association).

Find a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

The Cleveland Clinic writes, “Patients who join cardiac rehabilitation programs have a faster and safer recovery and better outcomes after a heart attack. It is important to follow your cardiac rehabilitation team’s instructions for activity. Everyone recovers at a different pace. This may be related to your activity level before your heart attack or the amount of damage to your heart muscle. It may take many months to develop the optimal exercise program.”

By joining an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program, not only are you committing to your recovery and living a full life after your cardiac event, but you’ll be doing so with a community of survivors. Many rehab programs are covered by insurance.

Take it Slow

Remember, recovery’s not a race! Your heart, mind, and body will need time to heal. Start by walking and slowly and gradually increase your pace. You should have slightly increased breathing, but you should be able to carry on a conversation. If you’re short of breath, slow down! If you’re walking outside, walk with a partner and stick close to home.

Once you’ve build your resilience back up by walking, choose an activity that you enjoy such as biking, swimming, or water aerobics and work it into your daily routine. Of course, if you are experiencing excessive shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, dizziness, or chronic fatigue, stop exercising and call your doctor!

Invest in an AED

You’re a survivor, invest in your future. Contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 to learn more about new or recertified AEDs for home use. We also welcome your emails; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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5 Evidence-Based Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness

Great reasons to start a corporate wellness program

Corporate wellness programs are more popular today than ever before. In the late 1970s, a few major corporations kicked things off by launching fitness tracking programs that focused almost entirely on physical fitness. Since then, wellness programs have evolved into holistic programs that include mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Today, good wellness programs not only encourage physical activity and healthy eating (which are great ways to prevent heart disease), but they often include mindfulness workshops, lunchtime yoga sessions, tobacco cessation programs, weight loss competitions, healthy living seminars, and health screenings. Wellness programs are now standard components of many corporate — large, mid-sized, and small — benefits packages.

When well executed, wellness programs offer workers incentives, tools, social support, and simple strategies for adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors. Furthermore, research shows that promoting healthy habits to employees and encouraging healthy behaviors through on-site fitness centers or gym memberships, lunchtime wellness programming, health-centered competitions, bike-to-work incentives, and mindfulness seminars are effective ways  to benefit both employer and employee.

1. Healthy, Happy Employees Incur Lower Health Costs

Lower health costs are mutually beneficial for employer and employee alike. Some companies even pass a percentage of health cost savings along to the employees as an incentive or use the savings to keep employee health insurance costs down.

“In a case study of large companies, total medical spending at a company with an employee wellness program experienced slower growth in health costs than companies without a program. Employees saw meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors; and average annual savings per employee were $565 (in 2009 dollars), producing a return on investment equal to a range of approximately $2 to $4 saved per dollar spent on the program” (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).

2. Wellness Programs Improve Productivity

There appears to be a strong link between physical activity and cognitive benefits like memory and focus. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who participated in a health promotion program and improved their health care or lifestyle regained an average of 10.3 hours in additional productivity annually and saved their companies an average of $353 per person per year in productivity costs compared to non-participants.

Evidence also indicates that instituting workplace health programs can reduce the average number of sick days taken, health plan costs, and workers’ compensation and disability insurance costs by approximately 25%.

3. Wellness Programs Improve Employee Engagement

In a Humana-sponsored report, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that wellness programs help bring employer and employee priorities and goals into alignment. In fact, 69% of those surveyed agreed that health and wellness programs are important to their organization’s culture.

“They [wellness programs] increase employee engagement with the company’s mission and goals. Employees are also more likely to see their own wellness as being linked with professional success. Companies that build a wellness culture thus acquire a workforce that is not only more focused and engaged, but that sees that culture as benefiting their careers.”

If that’s not enough, there’s also strong evidence to suggest that wellness programs can lead to improved employee retention and productivity.

4. Employee Wellness Programs May Decrease Depression

Wellness programs aren’t just for the body, they’re for the mind and spirit, too. Holistic wellness programs can help alleviate depression and the symptoms of depression, leading to higher rates of overall work/life satisfaction.

An article published by the National Institutes of Health revealed that those in the wellness study’s intervention group (as compared to those in the control group) were a whopping 63% more likely to show a decrease in their Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score.

Depression is the leading cause of presenteeism — poor employee performance — in the workplace. By decreasing BDI scores, employers can help their employees become happier and more productive.

5. Wellness Programs Inspire Healthy Behaviors and Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases

Making lasting changes to behaviors is challenging for many Americans, but workplace wellness programs can make a tremendous difference. Employers and employees can enjoy all the benefits that accompany healthy weight loss, including lower cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure levels, and more. Wellness programs can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest, and in as little as six weeks, health risks could decline dramatically leading to a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace.

Please contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 to learn more about our AED packages and our first aid, CPR, and AED training courses — all important components of company wellness programming! We also welcome your email queries; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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Key Differences Between a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and a Stroke

Infographic: American Heart Association

Is it a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or a Stroke?

They’re all serious conditions that require immediate medical attention but many people don’t fully understand the differences between these three common killers. Simply put, a heart attack is a circulatory problem, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction in the heart, and a stroke is caused by a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel in the brain.  

In this article, we’ll help you understand what’s happening within the body during each of these medical emergencies.

Although the risk factors may be the same from person to person, understanding the differences between these conditions can be a matter of life and death.

What’s a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks are, essentially, a circulation problem and they occur when blood flow to a person’s heart is severely reduced or blocked. Heart attacks can be relatively mild or very, very serious.

During a heart attack, an artery becomes clogged and cannot carry enough oxygen to the heart. The heart may continue to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the cardiac muscle will begin to die from lack of oxygen. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

You may be able to prevent a heart attack from occurring if you know what to look for and you listen to your body! Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before the heart attack itself. The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

It’s well worth noting that women may experience symptoms of a heart attack differently from men. Even though heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States, women often fail to identify their symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack (American Heart Association).

In addition to (or instead of) the symptoms listed above, women may experience pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, lightheadedness, fainting, flu-like symptoms or extreme fatigue.

What’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem and is caused when an individual’s heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, which prevents blood and oxygen from flowing to vital organs. Unlike a heart attack, SCA is always serious. Without the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock the heart back into a healthy rhythm, death can occur within minutes.

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

A heart attack often telegraphs its arrival with clearly defined symptoms, SCA, however, can occur with little or no warning, as it did for SCA survivor Rob Seymour. Symptoms are immediate and dire: sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness, lack of breathing, and no pulse. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the organs of the body are deprived of oxygen.

When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes.

SCA can be caused by any number of events, such as ventricular fibrillation, a sudden blow to the chest, electrocution, drowning, drug abuse, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, or hypothermia. Cardiac arrest can be reversible if it’s treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.

What’s a Stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack” that can happen to anyone at any time and occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clogged or burst blood vessel. When blood flow to the brain is cut off, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are permanently lost (National Stroke Association).

Symptoms of Stroke

Using the acronym FAST, you just may be able to save someone’s life. If someone’s face begins to droop or they’re complaining of numbness, ask them to smile. If the person’s smile is lopsided, they may be having a stroke. If their arm is weak or numb, ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is their speech slurred or strange? If someone is showing any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

What You Can Do to Assist Someone Who is Experiencing a Heart Attack, SCA, or Having a Stroke?

If you witness someone suffering from a possible heart attack, SCA, or a stroke call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED.

You never know when your actions could help save a life.

To become better equipped to offer assistance, sign up for first aid, CPR, and AED training today! Cardio Partners offers CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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