After a heart attack, you need to focus on recovery. Taking the heart medications your doctor prescribes and complying with recommended lifestyle changes are both important, but is there anything else that can help?
As it turns out, there is. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association earlier this year found that outcomes in patients under 55 who had heart attacks were worsened by low perceived social support—which means you may do better overall with more support.
What does support mean?
There are many ways to get support after you've had a heart attack. There is a lot of value in having friends and other loved ones who will listen to you talk about your experience and give you their time, for example.
There is also a lot to be said for people who will help you in more material ways. While you're recovering, who's going to cook dinner? Walk the dog? Get the kids to school? There are a thousand small tasks that may be too much for you during recovery, and supportive people who help you take care of them can make a huge difference.
The study also found depression symptoms may increase in people without support. Having friends to spend time with and having chances to get your mind off your troubles are key to recovery.
How do you find support?
If you live alone and don't have family nearby, it can be difficult to find supportive people in your life. The first step is not to be afraid to reach out. Friends can surprise you with how much they are willing to do, and perhaps distant family members will be willing to come visit for a period of time to help you take care of your domestic tasks.
There are other ways to get support as well. Anyone who has experienced a heart attack could benefit from getting to know others who are in the same situation, or who have overcome it. Look for online and in-person support groups that appeal to you, and get to know people who will understand what recovery from a heart attack is like.