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8 Mistakes Heart Patients Make

If you've already been through one heart attack, you're at increased risk for another, but with a few smart moves you can reduce that risk.

Unfortunately, many heart patients have mistaken ideas about what's good for them.

Mistake 1: Thinking all heart attacks are the same.

If your Aunt Mary had a heart attack even after a lifetime of eating low-fat foods and jogging every day, you may think changing your own lifestyle is not worth the trouble. Or, your friend the construction worker may have given up his job after a heart attack, so you assume you'll need to give up your desk job, too. Don't count on it. Work with your doctor to learn what's best for you personally.

Mistake 2: Not adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Learning to eat better may seem like the challenge of a lifetime--not to mention giving up cigarettes or making time for regular exercise. Yet, these are some of the best things you can do for a happier, healthier future.

Important steps that can help you prevent a second heart attack include:

  • Quit smoking.

  • Exercise regularly, according to your health care provider's advice.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and calories.

  • Control your weight.

  • Manage your blood pressure.

  • Control your cholesterol levels.

  • Control diabetes or any other blood sugar abnormalities.

Mistake 3: Staying stuck in grief or depression.

You may have lost your healthy self-image or the ability to do important things in your life. Any major life change will bring feelings of loss and may require a grieving process.

You and your family may need to work through a variety of emotions after your heart attack. Keep in mind that doing so leads to a positive, constructive future.

If you are overwhelmed with feelings of grief or depression, don't hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.

Mistake 4: Giving up on heart medications.

Don't stop taking your medications without talking to your health care provider. Work with your provider to determine what your choices are and what these medications can do for you in terms of risk versus benefit. Ask for help in choosing the ones that:

  • Work the best for you

  • Have the fewest side effects

  • Are affordable

  • You'll be comfortable taking

Mistake 5: Tiptoeing around your family.

Think about it: If you quit smoking and everyone else in the family quits as a result, you'll be helping everyone. Don't be afraid to make a big deal about your attempts at a healthy lifestyle; ask your loved ones to give you as much support as possible.

Mistake 6: Staking your life on yesterday's truths.

In many cases, the treatments doctors relied on just a few years ago already are considered outdated. There have been dramatic changes in medications and procedures, so stay up-to-date with regular visits to your health care team. 

Mistake 7: Shunning exercise.

Maybe you're worried it will overstress your heart, but regular exercise actually may be one of the best things you can do for your heart. It's crucial for someone who's already had a heart attack to exercise properly under the advice of a doctor. Get an exercise prescription designed just for you, based on your physical condition and your needs and interests.

Exercise can help people control risks related to weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. One excellent way to get started is to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Mistake 8: Not "bothering" your doctor with questions.

Your health care provider is your greatest ally and wants to partner in your care. Don't hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.

Valley Health offers emergency care at Hampshire Memorial Hospital, Page Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, War Memorial Hospital, Warren Memorial Hospital and Winchester Medical Center. All emergency departments are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with physicians and nurses trained in emergency care. Receiving the distinction of a Level II Trauma Center, WMC has dedicated trauma surgeons on call 24/7, a surgical team and suite dedicated solely to trauma, and a new helicopter service available locally to expedite transport.

An emergency department should be used when a sudden or severe condition requires immediate medical attention, when one is unable to reach a personal physician, or is instructed to go to the emergency department by a physician. When a patient arrives in the emergency department, a triage nurse will quickly evaluate the patient’s condition. The number of patients in the emergency department and the severity of their conditions will determine the order in which they are seen. Patients with the most serious problems are seen first.

Things to remember
  • In an emergency department, it is extremely important that the most acutely ill and injured are seen first.
  • The emergency department requires space to operate and for the staff to perform their duties. Therefore, the number of visitors in the treatment area must be kept to as few as possible.
  • Every effort is made to provide prompt care. Valley Health’s emergency departments are staffed 24 hours a day by a team of nurses, physicians and staff who perform laboratory work and x-rays. Good health is the primary concern.
  • If conditions change, or family members have questions or concerns while in the waiting area, the triage nurse or registration staff should be notified.
Hampshire Memorial Hospital Emergency Department
363 Sunrise Boulevard
Romney, WV 26757

Page Memorial Hospital Emergency Department
200 Memorial Drive
Luray, VA 22835

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital Emergency Department
759 South Main Street
Woodstock, VA 22664

War Memorial Hospital Emergency Department
109 War Memorial Drive
Berkeley Springs, WV 25411

Warren Memorial Hospital Emergency Department
1000 North Shenandoah Ave
Front Royal, VA 22630

Winchester Medical Center Level II Trauma Center
1840 Amherst Street
Winchester, VA 22601

Valley Health offers alternatives to the Emergency department for injuries and conditions not requiring immediate medical attention. In an effort to provide more convenient and timely care to patients with less complicated or acute emergencies, the following options are available.
(Examples of minor emergencies, which make up approximately 40 percent of emergency department visits, include sprains, scrapes, bumps and twists, flu symptoms, minor cuts and fractures, rashes, and fevers.)

Minor Emergency Care
Minor Emergency Care is available at Winchester Medical Center seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 540-536-6040

Page Convenient Care
Convenient Care is available at Page Memorial Hospital for anyone who needs after-hours care for minor illnesses or a non-life-threatening injury. Open 6 to 12 p.m., seven days a week. (Not recommended for children 3 and under or seniors over 65 with serious medical conditions.)

Valley Health Urgent Care provides treatment for minor illnesses and injuries when your physician is unavailable. Open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Same-day appointments available; walk-ins welcome. Locations: 607 East Jubal Early Drive in Winchester, VA, and 120 North Commerce Avenue in Front Royal, VA.