Each year, more than a million people in the U.S.have a heart attack. Once you leave the hospital, it takes about two months for your heart to heal from a heart attack, and it is important to be patient with the recovery journey. Your lifestyle will be changing and this will take some getting used to.
For the first few weeks, you should get up and follow a routine, but pace your activities and rest when you need it. Each day, you will want to do some light exercise such as walking, but you should avoid heavy lifting. Follow your doctor’s advice on when you can return to work, drive and begin to do activities that are more vigorous.
Your doctor will help guide you in eating a more heart healthy diet to prevent heart disease. This includes eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes; choosing proteins and fats wisely; and limiting cholesterol, simple carbohydrates and salt from your diet. A dietitian can help you modify your current eating plan to be more heart-healthy.
In addition, sexual activity can usually be resumed shortly after leaving the hospital as long as you are physically able. General guidelines: when you are able to walk about a half mile at a brisk pace without feeling over tired or short of breath you should be able to get back to your sexual relationship. However, anxiety on the part of either partner, as well as some medications, may interfere with sexual arousal and performance. So discuss any difficulties with your doctor.
It is important to know that about a quarter of patients feel depressed and angry after a heart attack. To avert these emotional difficulties, it is good to get up and dressed every day and to walk and resume hobbies and social activities. In addition, get a good night’s sleep and talk to someone you can trust if your feelings get to be too much.
You should take part in a cardiac rehabilitation program in a medically supervised setting to help in your recovery process. Such a program will educate you on heart disease and help you to develop strategies to create a healthier lifestyle including diet modification.
In general, the goal after a heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risks for another heart attack. This means preventing additional damage to your heart by taking your medications and seeing your doctor for regular heart checkups. It also often means changing your lifestyle by being active, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling diabetes, blood pressure and/or cholesterol intake, and managing your stress levels. Last – know the symptoms of a heart attack and do not delay seeking medical help, should you feel the same symptoms you felt before.