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Heart Attack Recovery

A heart attack is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated all life. In this condition, the blood flowing to the heart suddenly stops due to a blocked coronary artery. Damage to surrounding tissues is happening immediately. A heart attack recovery depends on the severity of the condition, as well as how quickly it is treated. Immediately after it happened, you can expect to stay in the hospital for three to five days, or until your condition is stable. Usually, it takes several weeks, and possibly up to several months, to recover from a heart attack.

Heart attack recovery

Your individual recovery is dependent on adherence to the treatment plan, risk factors, and your overall condition. During your recovery period, you will receive help and support from a range of healthcare professionals and this can include exercise specialists, pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapists, and nurses. These people will support your physical and mental health and they will ensure that your recovery is made safely and appropriately.

Usually, the recovery process is happening in stages, starting in hospitals, where your condition will be closely monitored and your individual needs for the future can be assessed. After you are discharged from the hospital, you will continue with your recovery process at home. There are two most important things which aim the recovery process and they are:

  • To reduce your risk of another heart attack
  • To gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities (this is known as cardiac rehabilitation)

Cardiac rehabilitation:

The cardiac rehabilitation program will begin when you are in a hospital. You will have another session within ten days of leaving the hospital. A member of the cardiac rehabilitation team will visit you in the hospital and he or she will give you detailed information about:

  • The state of your health and how the heart attack may have affected it
  • A specific type of treatment which you have received
  • What kind of medicines you will need when you leave the hospital
  • Which are some factors that have led to your heart attack
  • Which are some lifestyle changes which you can make to address those risk factors

Also, these people can help to get an answer to some questions that you have, such as social care, housing, welfare rights, and financial support.

Coming to grips with your feelings:

When you had a heart attack, then it can leave you with strong feelings about what has happened to you. Some of the most common emotions of people who have had heart attacks include depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and denial. These are normal reactions. You should talk with your doctor about your feelings. Feelings of depression may last up to six months.

Some common signs of depression include having low self–esteem, not caring about things that used to be important to you, feeling very tired, not feeling hungry, and sleep problems. Some people may need medicines or professional help for depression. Also, your family, friends, and coworkers will be affected by your heart attack. Your friends and family members will have questions about your future and questions about your condition.

Some lifestyle changes, and even something as simple as a new diet, can lead to stress within your family. When you have a positive attitude toward recovery and treatment, then this can help you to struggle to deal with your feelings. But, your physical recovery is not the only recovery that can begin in the hospital.

The mental and emotional recovery can begin there as well. When you are ready, your doctor will talk with you about what has happened, why it has happened, and what kind of treatment options you have. When you understand and accept all of these conditions, then will help you to improve your mental outlook. Also, supportive friends and family are very important for your overall health. The negative feeling which you have after a heart attack will pass as you recover and you slowly return to your normal activities.

Mediterranean – style diet:

In one study was found that the Mediterranean – style diet, which is high in olive oil and other healthy unsaturated fats, is very beneficial for heart attack patients, due to the ability to lower their risk of having another heart attack, a stroke, or dying, or developing another heart problem. You should talk with your doctor before you make any changes to your diet and to be sure that the Mediterranean – style diet is the right diet for you.


When you return home from the hospital, it is usually recommended to rest and only make light activities, such as walking up and down the stairs a few times per day or taking a short walk. You should gradually increase the amount of activity which you do each day over several weeks. The speed of how you can quickly do it will depend on the condition of your heart and your general health. Your doctor can provide more detailed advice about a plan to increase your activity levels.

Your rehabilitation program should be made of different exercises, depending on your ability and age. Most of the exercises which are included in your lifestyle will be aerobic. These types of exercises are designed to strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure and improve your circulation. Some examples of aerobic exercises include riding an exercise bike, swimming, or jogging on a treadmill.

Returning to work:

Most people usually return to work after having a heart attack. But, how quickly will this happen, will depend on the health, the state of the heart, and the kind of work that the affected person does. If your job is including light duties, such as working in an office, then you will be able to go back to work in a period of two weeks. But, if your job is including heavy manual tasks, or if your heart was extensively damaged, then it may pass several months before you can return to your work. Your doctor and care team will provide a more detailed prediction of how long it will be before you can return to work.


It has been proven that a low–fat and low–calorie diet can help to prevent the risk of a heart attack. If you already had a heart attack, then eating right is one must – to do a thing, so it can help you to prevent future occurrences. DASH or dietary approaches to stop hypertension is one helpful eating plan. The overall goal of this diet is to limit the intake of saturated fats, red meat, and sodium.

At the same time, it is focused on potassium-rich sources of fruits and vegetables, along with plant oils, fish, and lean meats. Many studies are shown that a plant-based diet can help to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress which can lead to heart failure. This diet can also decrease heart disease severity. Generally, you should aim to:

Focus on eating produce:

Vegetables and fresh fruits should be staples in your diet. When you cannot find them fresh, then consider substituting them with no–sugar – added frozen or salt–free canned versions.

Limit sodium:

It is recommended to reduce your daily sodium intake to under 2,300 mg on daily basis, so this can help to decrease the blood pressure and the overall strain on your health. This is the key element of the DASH diet.

Eat fewer calories:

When you eat too many calories and you are overweight, then this can lead to strain on your heart. It is important to manage your weight and eat a balance of plant foods, such as low–fat dairy products, lean meats, and plant foods, so they can help you.

Avoid trans fats and saturated fats whenever possible:

These fats directly lead to the formation of plaque in your arteries. When arteries become clogged, then the blood can no longer flow to your heart, which is resulting in a heart attack. This is a reason why you need to eat fats that come from plant sources, such as nuts or olive oil.

Quit smoking:

If you smoke, you have to stop it right now. You may have thought about it in the past, but now, when you had a heart attack, it is more crucial. Smoking is one risk factor for heart disease because it can increase your blood pressure and risk for clots by reducing the oxygen cells within the bloodstream. This means that the heart is working harder to pump blood and it has fewer healthy oxygen cells to maintain optimal performance.

If you quit now, then it will improve your overall health and it can help to reduce the occurrence of future heart attacks. You should be sure to avoid secondhand smoke too because it poses similar dangers in the terms of heart health.

Hanan Marshal
Hanan Marshal
Hanan, a medical student (MBBS) having passion for writing and is very much interested in holistic living along with nature. He is very much interested in doing community service and watches anime and play PS4 during his free time. You can reach him through [email protected]


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