Life After A Heart Event
Get tips and tools to help you emerge even stronger than before.
Returning home after a heart attack can be a time of great uncertainty. You may feel as if your world has been turned upside down. But it's important to remember that many people have been through this and not only survived, but come out stronger.
The first week you return home from the hospital, you may feel tired or weak. This is due to the damage to your heart muscle, and the extended bed rest you had in the hospital.
You may also experience some physical changes, such as leg swelling. Talk to your doctor about how to minimize discomfort and what symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.
It's also common to go through some emotional changes. About a quarter of patients feel depressed, angry and afraid after a heart attack. These are normal responses that usually go away with time, as you get back to your regular activities.
Adapting to change
It takes about two months for the heart to heal, and it can take many more weeks to get back to full speed. However, there are steps you can take to feel better, physically and emotionally.
- Pace yourself. Spread your activities throughout the day. If you become tired, rest and schedule unfinished activities for another day.
- Go for a walk. A regular walking program is a good way to regain your energy. Ask your doctor about the right amount of exercise for you.
- Share your feelings with your family, a friend, a clergyman, or support group.
- Read stories from other survivors - they've been where you are, and can be a great source of inspiration.
- Get a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep can cause you to feel tired or irritable.
- Join a cardiac rehabilitation program. Emotional support is just one benefit to a guided activity & education program.
Your main goal should be to live a heart healthy lifestyle and reduce your risk of a second heart attack - and prevent future damage to your heart. It's very important that you see your doctor for regular heart checkups. Gradually, you'll start to feel normal again - and maybe even better - thanks to your commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Most people survive their first heart attack and return to their normal lives to enjoy many more years of productive activity.