It is not surprising that someone might
be anxious or upset after suffering a heart attack. However, this may not merely be
a normal response to a life-threatening event. It may be a symptom of clinical depression, which affects up to one third
of people who have been through a heart attack.
Heart disease and depression can also
be a two-way street. Those who become depressed after a heart attack have double the risk of another heart attack, or of dying from heart disease, than those who do not become depressed.
Why? No one knows for sure, but there are many possibilities. It may be a chemical reaction: depression triggers production of stress hormones that interfere with the heart’s natural function. It can also be something even more basic: a person suffering with depression has less ability than their non-depressed peer to follow medical advice.
Whatever the reason, what can you do to prevent depression from exacerbating the effects of a heart attack?
The Harvard Medical School recommends participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is uniquely suited to addressing this debilitating consequence of heart disease. Cardiac rehab supports the implementation of therapeutic lifestyle changes, including adopting an appropriate exercise program. These changes, by themselves, can lift a patient’s spirits, helping them rebuild their emotional resources.
Cardiac rehab also includes mental health counseling, peer support groups, and instruction in stress management and relaxation techniques, all of which allow a heart attack patient to regain control of their health — and their life.
Recovering from a heart attack is hard. Recovering from a heart attack and depression
is even harder. Cardiac rehab, such as that offered by Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, can make all the difference. If you or a loved
one has suffered a heart attack or other cardiac event, contact Atlantic Coast by calling
732-364-7100 or clicking here.