Health & Wellness

Reading Heart Attack Signs

Male heart attack survivors share their stories and urge other men to take action
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What made you think you were having a heart attack? 

Man 1: I got chest pains while doing yard work. After taking some medicine and it not working, my wife called my doctor and got me to hospital. I had an attack right there on the table.

Man 2: I felt tired all the time and couldn’t shake it. I thought my body was just giving out on me, but I didn’t know what to do. I ended up eventually going to my doctor. It turns out my fatigue was a symptom of a heart attack.

Man 3: Faintness came over me one day while I was out on a walk. My wife was with me and called the ambulance. Thank goodness, ‘cause I ended up having a mild attack.

What caused your heart attack?

Man 1: I wasn’t living as well as Ishould have been. I thought the mealsI was eating were healthy, but myportion sizes were not.

Man 2: I had put on more weight thanI should have, I think that was it.

Man 3: I just didn’t live right. I ate whatI wanted, didn’t exercise much, drank abit too much.

Did you have to go to cardiac rehab?

All: Yes.

Man 2: It was intense and I had to learna lot in a short period of time. I hadto do a whole programme from when I was in the hospital and still go to a support centre to maintain my health and hopefully prevent another attack.

What activities did you have to avoid, if any?

Man 1: I was textbook and had to avoid traveling, driving, sex and strenuous work for weeks afterwards. I felt useless and depressed.

Man 2: I had to avoid all of the fun stuff.

Man 3: I could do most activities, but I had to take it slow. I was told to avoid stress and strenuous exercise.

Is it safe to engage in sexual activity after a heart attack?

Man 3: Thank goodness, yes, but you should wait until you feel healthy enough – usually a couple of weeks. You should probably work that out with your doctor.

How long did it take for you to recover?

Man 1: It’s been more than a year and I’m still in recovery. I caught COVID too, and I understand that that will continue to impact my ability to recover well.

Man 2: I felt better pretty quickly in comparison to some, but it would have been better if I didn’t have to recover at all!

Man 3: Too long. I think it’s something I’m going to have to manage for life.

What lifestyle changes did you make?

Man 1: I’ve stopped eating unhealthy snacks and I control my portion sizes a lot better now. I try and stay educated on what I can do to live as well as I can.

Man 2: I focused on eating right and exercise.

Man 3: I had to do a 180 – no smoking, no drinking, eat healthy, work out. Probably all the stuff I should have been doing in the first place.

What do you want men to know in relation to heart health?

Man 1: Work on being as healthy as you can so you can live life well.

Man 2: You have to care for your mental health as well as your physical health. If you can avoid this situation, do. Don’t try to be tough. Get information.

Man 3: Find out how to live right to avoid having a heart attack in the first place.

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