For Heart Event Survivors

Back to work after a heart event

Make your health a priority as you re-adjust to the workplace.

After a heart event, you'll probably be glad when you're able to resume your normal activities, including going back to work. But it's important to remember that you need to make your health top priority - and that may mean some adjustments for you and your coworkers.

What to expect

Most people who have had a heart attack can go back to work in two weeks to three months' time, depending on the severity of the attack. Your doctor will determine right time for you, and whether the type of work you do is safe for your heart.

You may be a bit nervous walking back into your workplace, and you may be surprised at the fears and anxieties of your coworkers.

Take it slow, and have a plan

The most important thing is to take things at your own pace. Just try to do one thing or get through one day - then when you've done that, do a little more. Here's some advice for a smooth re-entry into the workplace:

  • Make your health a priority. "For years I wanted to be director of the department," says Evan McCabe, who is a cardiac nurse. But, "when I was asked, I knew it would be very stressful. My priorities had changed, and I realized it wasn't a good choice for me."

  • Think ahead. Plan your workday to avoid anxiety-inducing surprises or last-minute scrambling around.

  • Exercise daily. On especially stress-filled days, do something extra for yourself like taking a yoga class.

  • Communicate. If your co-workers seem overly worried about you, tell them that you appreciate their concern–but that you'll let them know if and when you might need their help.

  • Be realistic. If too much is being asked of you at work, speak honestly with your supervisor.

  • With each little success, you'll feel more reassured. As you build your own confidence, you'll also build the confidence of those around you.

"I then went in the kitchen and took Bayer Aspirin just in case I was having a heart attack. Boy was I ever right!"
Thomas C., I am ProHeart Community Member