Consider the possibilities. You're whisked off to the emergency room, gasping for air, struggling to survive a heart attack. Fortunately, you survive. Of the 1.2 million heart attack victims each year, about 400,000 die before they reach the ER. In all, 13 million Americans have survived heart attacks or have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD causes more deaths each year than any other medical condition.
So, what will you do now that you've survived? Odds are, not much.
A study released by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School reveals that CHD patients often make few changes. Though they're counseled to make positive diet and exercise changes, it appears their lives typically remain on a downward path toward further debility.
The results are disturbing. One year after receiving CHD diagnoses only 12.4% were eating the recommended five servings of vegetables each day. Only 7.8% were eating four servings of fruit, and fewer than 8% were consuming the recommended amount of cereal fiber.
But, it gets worse.
50% - 20 minutes - 3 months.
Translation? Only 50% of those surveyed had exercised at least one time for 20 minutes in the previous 3 months. Further, only about 20% of patients attend the cardiac rehabilitation programs following diagnoses. It's truly a sad set of statistics.
According to study co-author Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at UMMS, "Physicians and health care providers should consider placing more of an emphasis on dietary counseling, along with exercise, for CHD patients. Nutrition counseling and patient dietary changes can lead to significant improvements in subsequent CHD risk and better quality of life."
These are sobering details. If you've been fortunate enough to survive a heart attack, or you've been diagnosed with CHD, your future begins today. Take a look around. Life is good - so, take the steps necessary to ensure you'll be here for a good long time.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about living a heart healthy lifestyle, see this from the American Heart Association.