Living Well After a Heart Attack
Recovery from a heart attack can take several months. As you get better, stick to the changes you've made to improve your health.
Follow Up with Your Provider
See your healthcare provider as directed. They will ask you about how your medications are working and may change your dosage or prescribe new medications. You may have tests done again, like blood tests, EKGs, or exercise stress. If you have questions, keep a list and ask them during visits. Report any changes in symptoms, such as pain or shortness of breath, to your healthcare provider or rehab staff.
Take Care of Yourself
- Don't push too hard. You may feel better, but listen to your body and take your time. Consider going back to work part time at first.
- Build in "stress breaks." Every hour, stop what you're doing and do deep breathing or visualization.
- Get enough sleep. Recommendations are 7 – 9 hours each night. It helps your body heal.
- Stick to a heart-healthy diet that's low in fat and sodium. Look for new recipes and find ways to trim fat and salt from recipes you already love. Cut down on red meat and experiment with salt-free seasonings.
- Exercise. Most of your work out should be aerobic exercise like walking, biking and swimming, which improves your heart, lungs, blood vessels and endurance. Strength exercises, like weightlifting, build muscle and endurance. Stretching increases flexibility and reduces stress. No matter what you weigh, increased fitness helps your heart!
Use Your Support Systems
- Friends, family, and co-workers may want to help. Be honest about your heart attack and give suggestions for helping out.
- Encourage friends and co-workers to share lunchtime walks and healthy snacks with you.
- Pick a few close friends to encourage you whenever you have trouble with the changes you're making.
- Keep using support groups or cardiac rehab programs. If you are a smoker, find a smoking cessation program to help you quit. These programs can provide resources and emotional support.
For Family and Friends
Your loved one will have ups and downs. That's normal. Help them focus on the positive. Sticking to lifestyle changes will help them feel better and be healthier. Keep in mind that if you make the same changes, it can help your loved one make and keep these new healthy habits. Communicate your concerns with your loved one and keep the conversation open.
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