The Scary Thing That Can Happen After You Survive a Heart AttackLive through a heart attack and something frightening might still be looming: Heart attack survivors may be prone to develop heart failure, new research from the Netherlands finds.

In the study of over 25,000 patients, nearly 1 in 4 heart attack survivors were diagnosed with heart failure—a chronic condition where the heart becomes too weak to adequately pump blood throughout the body—within 4 years of the event.

It was even more common in heart attack victims who also had other health problems, like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), high blood pressure, or an irregular heartbeat.Here’s what’s happening: During a heart attack, a portion of your heart becomes deprived of oxygen and blood.

As a result, the muscle begins to die, says Robert Vogel, M.D., a cardiologist with Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab.

If you receive treatment quickly enough—ideally within two hours of symptoms starting—your heart can heal. But wait too long, and your heart’s muscles may become permanently damaged, which ups your risk for heart failure.

And since damaged, weak heart muscles can’t pump as much blood as usual, that puts you at greater risk for another heat attack, too, Dr. Vogel says.

That means that guys who have lived through heart attacks need to be extra vigilant about keeping their hearts healthy through diet, exercise, and other healthy habits.

And if you ever think you might be having a heart attack—say, you’re experiencing symptoms like chest pain or pressure, pain radiating down one arm, or you feel clammy or nauseous—get to the emergency room as soon as possible.

The earlier you get treatment, the more likely it is that doctors can prevent widespread damage to your heart muscle, says Dr. Vogel.

That means your heart will sustain less damage, lowering the chances that you’ll develop heart failure years later.



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