Thomas E. Vanhecke, MD


Preventing Reinfarction: Recommenations for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

May 01, 2007

ABSTRACT: In addition to appropriate pharmacotherapy and assistance with smoking cessation, a secondary prevention plan should include counseling about a heart-healthy diet, a structured exercise program and/or increased physical activity, and assessment of psychosocial risk factors, such as depression. Advise patients to reduce their intake of salt, sugars, refined carbohydrates, and saturated and trans fats; incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and fish into their diet; and balance caloric intake and physical activity to achieve and maintain a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2. Cardiorespiratory fitness is the key to cardioprotection; the threshold for improving it in persons with coronary heart disease is about 70% of the mea-sured maximal heart rate. Encourage patients to engage in multiple short bouts of physical activity daily, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking the dog. Among previously sedentary persons, this approach has effects on cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and coronary risk factors similar to those of a structured exercise program.

Preventing Reinfarction: Basic Elements of an Effective Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

May 01, 2007

ABSTRACT: Patients who experience an acute myocardial infarction (MI) are at very high risk for recurrent cardiovascular events. Both site-supervised and home-based cardiac rehabilitation programs can effectively reduce all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Start risk factor reduction as soon as possible; pharmacotherapy is best initiated while patients are still in the hospital. All patients who have had an MI should receive aspirin, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and a ß-blocker, unless these agents are contraindicated or are not tolerated. Prescribe aggressive lipid-lowering therapy to bring patients' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels to below 70 mg/dL. For smokers, quitting is the single most important change they can make to reduce future risk of MI.