A Guide to Post-Heart Attack Recovery

If you had a heart attack, you know first-hand that it’ll take an emotional and physical toll on you. It’ll keep you from doing most of the activities that you love to do, and could make you feel scared of developing a more serious heart condition. Still, a lot of people are able to live a normal and productive life after having a heart attack. To achieve the same normal, productive life, simply talk with your Singapore cardiologist on how you can tailor your approach to a healthy heart attack recovery.

1. Take Things Easy

A heart attack is one life-threatening event, and you’re lucky if you managed to survive such a serious situation. You may start feeling better several weeks after the attack, but it’s crucial that you avoid pushing yourself too soon. Normally, it takes up to three months before your physician allows you to go back to work. So use that given time to gradually ease back into your daily routine, and modify your stressful activities to avoid risking a heart attack relapse.

2. Clarify Questions About Certain Medications

Taking medicines is just one part of a typical post-heart attack treatment plan. The medications prescribed by your cardiologist Singapore is based on how much heart tissue was damaged, and your other risk factors. You physician may prescribe drugs for chest pain, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight loss and overall discomfort.

3. Join a Cardiac Rehab

Aside from taking certain medicines, you’re also advised to enter a cardiac rehabilitation program. These programs are run by medical professionals, and are designed to monitor your condition and recovery after the heart attack. Such programs are also used to monitor your cardiac risk factors with a heart specialist doctor in Singapore to ensure a healthy recovery. Singapore health experts recommend that you monitor your cardio risk factors, and as much as possible, achieve the following goal numbers:

    • Blood pressure level lower than 140/90 mm Hg
    • Blood glucose level under 100 mg/dL
    • Blood cholesterol under 180 mg/dL
    • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9
    • Waist circumference lower than 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women

A regular reading of these metrics will be done during your cardiac rehabilitation, but it still pays to be aware of these numbers even after your rehab.

4. Change Your Lifestyle Habits

Having a heart-healthy lifestyle is another way of quickly recovering from a heart attack. So take some time to consider your current lifestyle habits, and look for ways that’ll help in improving them.

    • Exercise

    Performing certain workout routines after you’ve recovered from a heart attack is possible, as long as you have your doctor’s go signal. Regular exercise is essential for maintaining your weight, but it’s also great for working your muscles – the most important muscle being your heart.

    Any form of exercise that gets your blood pumping is good, but when it comes to heart health aerobic exercises are the best choice. Some of the good aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, cycling and swimming. Performing any of these activities will help in increasing the amount of oxygen in your body, and in improving your heart’s ability to pump the oxygen through your bloodstream. Other than that, aerobic exercises also help in reducing cholesterol, hypertension and stress.

    • Eat Right

    A low-calorie, low-fat diet has been proven to help in lowering one’s heart attack risk. If you’ve already had a heart attack, however, eating right is a must to keep relapses from occurring. As much as possible, avoid consuming saturated and trans-fats as these fats contribute to the plaque formation in the arteries, which later on results to heart attack.

    Being overweight and eating too many calories is what strains the heart. So learn to manage your weight, and consume a balanced meal of lean meats, plant foods and low-fat dairy products. Also, opt for fats from plant sources like nuts and olive oil instead of animal fats.

    • Quit Smoking

    You might’ve considered quitting smoking in the past, but doing so is even more important after you’ve had a heart attack. Smoking is a risk factor for developing a heart disease as it increases blood pressure and risks for blood clots. So quit now to significantly improve your overall health and reduce your risk of a heart attack recurrence. Be sure to avoid inhaling second-hand smoke as well, as this poses similar dangers with regards heart health.

    • Manage Your Other Risk Factors

    According to Singapore health experts, heart diseases usually run in families, but majority of heart attacks are attributed to poor lifestyle choices. Aside from your diet, exercise and smoking habits, it’s also crucial that you manage other risk factors that may contribute to future heart attacks. Such risk factors include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, great amounts of stress, as well as mental health concerns like anxiety and depression.

5. Know When to Seek Medical Attention

Understand that you’re at a huge risk of having another heart attack after recovering from the first one, which is why it’s crucial that you stay in tune with your body and report any heart attack symptoms to your cardiologist Singapore immediately. Call 995 if you ever experience chest pain, sudden and extreme fatigue, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath and leg swelling.

Living a normal and productive life even after suffering from a heart attack is possible. Just keep these heart healthy tips in mind, and you’ll surely be on your way to a faster recovery from heart attack.

HIV Tests You Should Know About

Tests performed at clinics or hospitals in Singapore for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have three main objectives that follow the standards set by the UNAIDS. The objectives of HIV screening include screening of donated blood, diagnosis of infection in persons, and epidemiological survey or HIV trends and prevalence.

Those are just the general objectives, however, and standards vary among hospitals in Singapore. So, what are your options if you need to undergo HIV screening?

Common Testing Methods

Although there are 100 kinds of HIV tests worldwide and more are still currently in development, there are two main types of HIV screening that look for specific signs. One type of test is the detection of HIV antibodies, which is the most common method in most clinics and hospitals; second is the detection of virus itself.

Antibody tests will look for specific indicators in the blood that your body is trying to fight off HIV. The antibodies are produced by your immune system that can be tested by a HIV test in Singapore and target specific infections like HIV, which can be detected within a 3- to 8-week window period. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is the most popular HIV antibody test, because it is cheap and is suitable for large samples such as blood for blood transfusions.

Testing in Clinics/Hospitals

HIV testing in clinics or hospitals are done to detect the presence of the antigens, the virus, and to determine the stage of the infection. Most doctors recommend either of these two methods: nucleic acid amplification technologies (NAT) or viral culture.

    • NAT refers to tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), that detect the material of HIV. It is used during the treatment of an HIV patient and can detect the virus even if the levels in the sample are very low.

    • Viral Culture is the method of growing virus samples from the blood. If the sample can be cultured, it means that your blood is infected with the virus.

You will need at least two different tests to confirm that you are infected with HIV. If your first test resulted in a negative (not infected), a second test is needed within a 3-month window period to confirm the first result.

It’s important to disclose any related information to your doctor regarding your health, lifestyle, sexual history, history of sexually-transmitted diseases (if any), or if you are a victim of sexual assault, so that early treatment can be recommended. The window period (or the time between the initial infection and when it can be accurately detected) varies among individuals, but tests are usually done 3 weeks after the infection and will be repeated within 3 months regardless of the result of the first HIV testing.

Testing in Nonclinical Settings

    • Rapid or Simple HIV Tests, also called rapid assays, can be performed in less than 2 hours, but are as accurate as the results of ELISA. These are done using either a filter paper with blood from a pricked finger or a whole blood sample. To date, there are four rapid assays that you can choose from, such as comb or dipstick assays, chromatographic membrane assays, agglutination assays, and flow-through membrane assays.

    • Saliva and Urine Tests are additional options, too, because the sample is safer to handle and transport without the risk of infecting anyone. These anonymous HIV test methods can be done at the comfort of your own home with the use of HIV testing kits available in pharmacies in Singapore, and the sample sent to a nearby laboratory.

HIV Testing for Adolescents and Adults

Most doctors recommend that persons aged between 13 and 64 should get an annual HIV testing, especially those who are sexually-active, to avoid possible complications brought about by the virus. It’s not uncommon that some HIV patients were unaware that they were infected until they took HIV tests or experienced some symptoms of the disease.

Some adolescents who were diagnosed with HIV were also victims of sexual assault, that is why it is a standard procedure for hospitals to give victims post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) right away along with antiretroviral medicines to prevent infection.

HIV infection isn’t just through intimate contact but through contact with infected blood and blood products and mother-to-infant transmission. If you have a history of sexually-transmitted diseases, you are also more likely to get HIV, that is why some doctors might also recommend HIV screening when you’re having your STD tests, which have separate detection methods for each specific infection.

HIV Testing for Pregnant Women

HIV screening for expectant mothers should be included during the earliest routine prenatal check-up and repeated during the 3rd trimester of the pregnancy (or 36 weeks of gestation). This is especially crucial if the woman has a history of STDs or is at high risk for acquiring HIV.

If the woman shows signs of HIV infection, she is recommended to undergo plasma RNA test and HIV antibody test. It is also possible have an HIV screening during labor and immediately postpartum using the rapid HIV test, so that the exposed baby can be given antiretroviral prophylaxis.

HIV Testing for Infants and Children

Children older than 18 months undergo the same tests as those used in adolescents and adults, such as serological testing or the confirmation of HIV antigen and/or antibody presence. The tricky part in testing infants younger than 18 months, however, comes from the manner of transmission from an infected to mother to the child.

The maternal HIV antibody is usually transferred during pregnancy, but the virus declines in his/her first year of life, so the usual tests cannot distinguish the HIV antibody from the infant from the HIV antibody of the mother. If the baby is younger than 18 months and the mother is suspected of having an infection, the assays of the virus and its components are recommended; such as the extraction, amplification, and detection of nucleic acids of the virus; and the detection of RNA to distinguish it from HIV RNA.