There are number of myths about living a normal life after you suffered from a heart attack. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions. How to get back to your regular life after a heart attack?
How soon can I return to my regular activities?
The amount of activity you can do after a heart attack will depend on the condition of your heart. Your doctor will help you develop a recovery plan. Most people can return to work and the activities they enjoy within a few months of having a heart attack. Others may have to limit their activity if the heart muscle is very weak.
You will need to start slowly. For the first few days after your heart attack, you may need to rest and let your heart heal. As your heart heals, you’ll be ready to start moving around again. A few days after your heart attack, your doctor may want you to move around more. You may do stretching exercises and get up and walk. You’ll then slowly become more active based on advice from your doctor.
Once you’re through the early period after a heart attack, your doctor may talk to you about how to be active within your limits. Your doctor will probably want you to do an exercise test (also called a stress test). During this test, your doctor will ask you to exercise (usually walking on a treadmill) while he or she monitors your heart. Based on the results, your doctor will develop an exercise plan for you.
How can I improve my recovery?
Your doctor may recommend that you get involved in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation programs are supervised by exercise specialists. Many hospitals sponsor these programs to get people started with a safe level of exercise after a heart attack. After a while, you’ll probably be able to exercise on your own. But if you have any of the symptoms listed in the box below, call your doctor. You may be working too hard.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms during exercise:
- Shortness of breath for more than about 10 minutes
- Chest pain or pain in your arms, neck, jaw or stomach
- Dizzy spells
- Pale or splotchy skin
- Very fast heart beat or an irregular heart beat
- Cold sweats
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness or fainting
- Swelling or pain in your legs
Why is exercise so important?
Exercise strengthens your heart muscle. It can also boost your energy and your mood, help you feel more in control of your health and help you lose weight and keep it off. Exercise may also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels as well as improve sleep.
Risk factors for another heart attack
Taking charge of the things that put you at risk for another heart attack can help you feel better and reduce your risk of future problems. The following factors can put you at risk for another heart attack:
- Not exercising
- Alcohol in excessive amounts
- Being overweight or obese
- High cholesterol level
- High blood sugar level if you have diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Too much stress in your life
How often should I exercise?
This depends on your exercise plan. You’ll probably start slowly and gradually add to your routine. Your doctor may want you to exercise 3 or 4 times a week for about 10 to 30 minutes at a time. Be sure to warm up before exercising, for example by walking at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes or more.
The key is to keep moderation. Stay active, stay healthy!
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