Recovering from a Heart Attack or Heart Surgery

Recovering from Heart Attack or Heart Surgery

Recovering from a Heart Attack or Heart Surgery

When a woman comes home from the hospital after a heart attack or after heart surgery,it can be difficult to know what to do once she gets home. Many women may feel pressured to get back to their jobs or activities at home

Changing Your Lifestyle While Recovering

Instead of returning to your usual activities right away, here are important changes to make while you recover.

  • Take it easy. Patients are usually told not to return to work for six weeks after a heart attack. But women often start doing household chores sooner than that. It is easy to forget that housework can be heavy physical work. For example, lifting a wet, queen-sized sheet out of the washing machine is like lifting more than 15 pounds. This kind of effort is not recommended for recovering patients.
  • Give the household chores to your family.
  • Accept help from your friends, family and community. Ask your close friends and family for support.
  • Eat several small meals a day rather than one big meal late in the day. Big meals put a heavy load on your blood circulation system. Rest after meals.
  • Allow more time than it took before to do any activity.
  • Rest for 20 to 30 minutes, twice a day.

Your heart attack or heart surgery can lead you to make some healthy lifestyle changes.

  • Quit smoking.
  • Start or continue eating a heart-healthy diet.
  • Exercise more.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Learn to manage stress.

Because of these changes, chances are you will feel better with time. Heart patients can return to productive, energetic lives once they have recovered.

Getting All the Information

You have many resources for learning about your condition.

  • Talk to your cardiologist or primary care physician about your recovery at home. Ask what activities you can do and when. Your physician can give you an exercise test, where you will walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike while they monitor your heart. This test can help your physician decide what level of activity you are ready to begin. This exercise test may be given before you enroll in cardiac rehabilitation.
  • Read educational materials available from your hospital, the American Heart Association, the library or a health information center.
  • Share information with your family so that they understand what heart disease is. Tell them about your physical limitations.
  • Ask your healthcare providers about cardiac rehabilitation.

Having Sex After a Heart Attack or Heart Surgery

It is safe to have sex again when you can be physically active without chest pain. This is usually four to six weeks into recovery, but discuss this with your physician. Do not have sex if you are upset, tired or anxious or after a big meal. These all put extra stress on your blood circulation system.

Taking Care of Your Feelings After a Heart Attack or Heart Surgery

Having a heart attack or heart surgery is frightening. Often a life-altering event can change your perspective of your health and vitality. It is not uncommon for women to report being depressed afterwards. In fact, 25%-30% of heart patients become depressed during recovery.

Talk with your physician if you feel depressed. Your physician may refer you to a support group for heart disease survivors or recommend counseling. You may need medical therapy for depression and stress in certain cases.

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