Being active after your heart attack
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked long enough that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. Starting a regular exercise program is important to your recovery after a heart attack.
Heart attack - activity; MI - activity; Myocardial infarction - activity; Cardiac rehabilitation - activity; ACS - activity; NSTEMI - activity; Acute coronary syndrome activity
When You're in the Hospital
You had a heart attack and were in the hospital. You may have had angioplasty and a stent placed in an artery to open a blocked artery in your heart.
What to Expect at Home
While you were in the hospital, you should have learned:
Your health care provider may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program to you. This program will help you learn what foods to eat and exercises to do to stay healthy. Eating well and exercising will help you start feeling healthy again.
Getting Started with Your Exercise
Before you start to exercise, your provider may have you do an exercise test. You should get exercise recommendations and an exercise plan. This may happen before you leave the hospital or soon afterward. DO NOT change your exercise plan before talking with your provider. The amount and intensity of your activity will depend on how active you were before the heart attack and how severe your heart attack was.
Take it easy at first:
Slowly increase how long you exercise at any one time. If you are up to it, repeat the activity 2 or 3 times during the day. You may want to try this very easy exercise schedule (but ask your doctor first):
After 6 weeks, you may be able to start swimming, but stay out of very cold or very hot water. You can also begin playing golf. Start easily with just hitting balls. Add to your golfing slowly, playing just a few holes at a time. Avoid golfing in very hot or cold weather.
You can do some things around the house to stay active, but always ask your provider first. Avoid a lot of activity on days that are very hot or cold. Some people will be able to do more after a heart attack. Others may have to start more slowly. Increase your activity level gradually by following these steps.
You may be able to cook light meals by the end of your first week. You can wash dishes or set the table if you feel up to it.
By the end of the second week you may start doing very light housework, such as making your bed. Go slowly.
After 4 weeks, you may be able to:
By 6 weeks, your provider may allow you to do more activities, such as heavier housework and exercise, but be careful.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if you feel:
Also call if you have angina and it:
These changes may mean your heart disease is getting worse.
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Review Date: 7/25/2018
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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