After a Heart Attack: Nine Important Steps to Follow

Heart disease is one of the most common conditions affecting middle age and older men and women. What you do after you have a heart attack (myocardial infarction) is important to your recovery and to your survival.
If you’ve just had a heart attack, how do you know whether you’re getting the best possible care? A new set of clinical performance measures can tell you whether your in-hospital treatment is on track. The measures, which were developed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, are designed to help physicians provide optimal care for heart attack patients by outlining the key therapies that define high-quality hospital care.
• Heart Attack Step 1. You should receive aspirin when you arrive at the hospital. Studies show that aspirin reduces the risk of dying after a heart attack.
• Heart Attack Step 2. The hospital should provide clot-busting medication or angioplasty quickly. Prompt treatment is essential after a heart attack to reduce the risk of death. If you’re a candidate for clot-busting medication, you should receive it within 30 minutes of arrival at the hospital. Angioplasty with or without stenting should be done within 90 minutes of arrival.
• Heart Attack Step 3. While you’re in the hospital, you should receive a test that evaluates your heart’s pumping ability. Doctors will administer an echocardiogram, radionuclide angiogram or left ventriculogram to evaluate your heart’s left ventricular systolic function, or pumping ability.
• Heart Attack Step 4. Within 24 hours of admission, doctors should measure your total, LDL and HDL cholesterol levels as well as your triglyceride level. The results of this test will help determine your risk of a second heart attack and how aggressive your lipid-lowering therapy and dietary modifications need to be.
• Heart Attack Step 5. You should leave the hospital with prescriptions for a beta-blocker and a statin and advice to take a daily aspirin. These drugs reduce the risk of death and a second heart attack. A statin will be prescribed even if your LDL cholesterol is below 100 mg/dL.
• Heart Attack Step 6. If your heart’s pumping ability is reduced, you should also receive on discharge a prescription for an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB).
• Heart Attack Step 7. If you received clot-busting medication after your heart attack, you should also receive a prescription for the antiplatelet drug clopidogrel (Plavix) when leaving the hospital. Adding Plavix to a daily aspirin further reduces the risk of heart attack in individuals treated with clot-busting medication after a heart attack.
• Heart Attack Step 8. You should receive a referral to a cardiac rehabilitation program or information about a clinical exercise program. These programs offer supervised exercise in addition to counseling on lifestyle measures, medication use and psychological issues. Make sure to follow through with your referral to cardiac rehab.
• Heart Attack Step 9. If you are a smoker, you should receive advice on smoking cessation while in the hospital. Quitting smoking is an essential part of recovering from a heart attack and has important long-term health benefits, including reducing your risk of a second heart attack.

This was excerpted from Johns Hopkins Medical Report: https://mail.google.com/mail/?hl=en&shva=1#inbox/133da74a2625336a

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