Medically reviewed by Anil Om, MD McLeod Cardiology Associate
What You Want to Know
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you or a relative recently had a heart attack. We are going to discuss what to expect after that rush to the hospital, treatment and stabilization.
PAIN After a Heart Attack:
About half of the patients will suffer shortness of breath after a heart attack. Chest pain (angina) is also a possibility. Both of these should disappear over time. If they pain worries you, see your physician.
RECOVERY After a Heart Attack:
It’s normal to feel tired. Rest is important when the patient goes home, but it’s also important to get up and moving. Start by going up and down a few steps or taking a short walk. Go to the kitchen. Make a beverage or a snack. Many people return to normal activity in six weeks or so.
Returning to work depends on the status of the person’s heart, their general health and the type of work. The cardiologist and personal physician will help in this decision.
Sexual activity can usually be resumed in a month or so. However, the patient’s desire and performance may be hampered by anxiety or fear of another heart attack. About a third of men experience erectile dysfunction. Medication can help if the problem is physical. Counseling may help if it is emotional.
EMOTIONS After a Heart Attack:
Anxiety (Will it happen again?), Resentment (Why me?) and depression are common feelings for the post-heart attack patient. They may also feel guilty, even fearful about imposing this burden of care on their family. They may have trouble sleeping. If depression lingers, see the family physician, a cardiologist or a therapist.
Family members may have anxiety about the patient’s health or may feel guilty about being a cause of the heart attack.
All of this is normal and may diminish over time.
LIFESTYLE Changes After a Heart Attack:
“A good way to reduce the emotional anxiety and depression is to focus on positive changes that will reduce the risk of another heart attack,” says McLeod Cardiologist Anil Om, MD. “Regular exercise eases depression, lowers blood pressure and keeps cholesterol low. A healthy diet helps control a person’s weight and improves the way they feel physically. Most importantly, quit smoking.”
MEDICATIONS After a Heart Attack:
Post-heart attack, the cardiologist may recommend a number of medications:
REHABILITATION After a Heart Attack:
Starting a formal cardiac rehabilitation program is one of the most important aspects of heart attack recovery.
Specially trained therapists will take the patient through a series of exercises designed to give the participant tools to lose weight and stay fit.
A heart attack can be the one best things that ever happened to a person, IF they see it as the catalyst for change – finding more balance and living a healthier life style.
Find a Cardiologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Heart Association, National Health Service (UK), British Heart Foundation, British Medical Journal, American College of Cardiology