Recovering from a heart attack can take several months, and it's very important not to rush your rehabilitation.
During your recovery period, you'll receive help and support from a range of healthcare professionals, which may include:
These healthcare professionals will support you physically and mentally to ensure your recovery is conducted safely and appropriately.
The recovery process usually takes place in stages, starting in hospital, where your condition can be closely monitored and your individual needs for the future can be assessed. After being discharged, you can continue your recovery at home.
The two most important aims of the recovery process are:
Your cardiac rehabilitation programme will begin when you're in hospital. You should also be invited back for another session taking place within 10 days of leaving hospital.
A member of the cardiac rehabilitation team will visit you in hospital and provide detailed information about:
They can also answer any questions you have about finance, welfare rights, housing and social care.
Once you return home, it's usually recommended that yourest and only do light activities, such as walking up and down the stairs a few times a day or taking a short walk.
Gradually increase the amount of activityyou do each day over several weeks. How quickly you can do this will depend on the condition of your heart and your general health. Your care team can provide more detailed advice about a recommended plan to increase your activity levels.
Your rehabilitation programme should contain a range of different exercises, depending on your age and ability.Most of the exercises will beaerobic. Aerobic exercises are designed to strengthen the heart, improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Examples of aerobic exercises include riding an exercise bike, jogging on a treadmill and swimming.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack, but how quickly will depend on your health, the state of your heart and the kind of work you do. If your job involves light duties for example, if you work in an office you may be able to return to work in as little as two weeks.
However, if your job involves heavy manual work or your heart was extensively damaged, it may be several months before you can return to work.
Your care team willprovide a more detailed prediction of how long it will take for youto return to work.
According to the British Heart Foundation , you're usually able to start having sex again once you feel well enough, usuallyabout four to sixweeks after having a heart attack. Having sex won't put you at further risk of having another heart attack.
Following a heart attack, about one in three men have Impotence , which may make having sex difficult.
This is most commonly due to anxiety and the emotional stress associated with having a heart attack. Less commonly, erectile dysfunction is caused by a side effect of beta-blockers .
If you experience erectile dysfunction, speak to your GP. They may be able to recommend treatment. For example, you may be prescribed medication that stimulates the flow of blood to your penis, which makes it easier to get an erection.
If you drive a car or motorcycle and you have a heart attack, you don't have to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) .
Many people can now return to drivingone week after a heart attack, as long you don't have any other condition or complication that would disqualify you from driving.
However, in more severe cases you may need to stop driving forfour weeks. Your doctor or rehabilitation team should advise how long you mustwait beforedriving after your heart attack.
If you drive a large goods vehicle or passenger-carrying vehicle, you must inform the DVLA if you have a heart attack.
Your licence will be temporarily suspended, for a minimum of six weeks, until you've adequately recovered.
Your licence will be reissued if you can pass a basic health and fitness test, and don't have any other condition that would disqualify you from driving.
Having a heart attack can be frightening and traumatic, and it's common to have feelings of anxiety afterwards. For many people, the emotional stresses can cause them to feel depressed and tearful for the first few weeks after returning home from hospital.
If feelings of depression persist, speak to your GP, because you may have a more serious form of depression.
It's important to seek advice, because serious types of depression often don't get better without treatment.
Your emotional state could also have an adverse effect on your physical recovery.
Reducing your risk of having another heart attack involves making lifestyle changes and taking a long-term course ofdifferent medications.
It's recommended that you eat two to four portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish contains a type of fatty acid known as omega-3, which can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Good sources of omega-3 include:
Never take a food supplement without first consulting your GP. Some supplements, such as beta-carotene, could be potentially harmful.
It's also recommended that you eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This means eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat. Replace butter and cheese with products based on vegetable and plant oil, such as olive oil.
The NHS Smokefree website can provide you with advice and support.
Your GP can also recommend and prescribe medication to help you give up.
Readmore about treatments for quitting smoking .
If you drink alcohol, don't exceed the recommended limits:
Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.
Regularly exceeding the recommended alcohol limits raises your blood pressure and cholesterol level, increasing your risk of another heart attack.
Avoid binge drinking (drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk). Binge drinking can cause a sudden and large rise in your blood pressure, which could be potentially dangerous.
Research has found that people who have had heart attacks and continue to binge drink are twice as likely to die of a serious health condition, such as another heart attack or stroke, compared to people who moderate their drinking after having a heart attack.
Contact your GP if you find it difficult to moderate your drinking. Counselling services and medications can help you reduce your alcohol intake.
Once you've made a sufficient physical recovery from the effects of a heart attack (see cardiac rehabilitation, below, for more information about how long this usually takes), it's recommended that you do regular physical activity.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking) every week.
The level of activity should be strenuous enough to leave you slightly breathless.
If you find it difficult to achieve 150 minutes of activity a week, start at a level that you feel comfortable with (for example, 5-10 minutes of light exercise a day) and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your activity as your fitness begins to improve.
There are currently four types of medication widely used to reduce the risks of a heart attack:
ACE inhibitors are often used to lower blood pressure, as they block the actions of some of the hormones that help regulate blood pressure. By stopping these hormones from working, the medicine helps to reduce the amount of water in your blood and also widens your arteries, both of which will reduce your blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors have been known to reduce the supply of blood to the kidneys, which can reduce their efficiency. Therefore, blood and urine tests may be carried out before you start taking ACE inhibitors, to make sure there are no pre-existing problems with your kidneys.
Annual blood and urine tests may be required if you continue to use ACE inhibitors.
The side effects of ACE inhibitors can include:
Most of these should pass within a few days, although some people continue to have a dry cough.
If ACE inhibitors are taken with other forms of medication, including over-the-counter medicines, they can cause unpredictable effects.
Check with your GP or pharmacist before taking anything in combination with ACE inhibitors.
It's usually recommended that you begin taking ACE inhibitors immediately after having a heart attack and, in most cases, continue taking them indefinitely. In some individuals who prove intolerant of ACE inhibitors, a related alternative medication an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) may be prescribed.
Anti-platelets are a type of medication that can help prevent blood clots. They work by reducing the "stickiness" of platelets, which are tiny particles in the blood that help it to clot.
It's usually recommended that you take low-dose aspirin , which has blood-thinning properties, as well as being a painkiller.
You are more likely to be given additional anti-platelet medication, such as clopidogrel , prasugrel or ticagrelor, especially if you've had stent treatment. These can also be used if you're allergic to aspirin.
Side effects can include:
As with ACE inhibitors, treatment with anti-platelets usually begins immediately after a heart attack. The amount of time for which you are prescribed these medications can be anywhere between 4 weeks and 12 months, and depends on the type of heart attack you have had and the other treatment you have received.
It's usually recommended that you take aspirin indefinitely. If you experience troublesome side effects due to aspirin, you should contact your GP for advice. Don't suddenly stop taking the aspirin, as this could increase your risk of another heart attack.
You may occasionally also be put on another blood-thinning medication, called warfarin . This usually only happens if you have remained in an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) or have sustained severe damage to your heart.
Excessive bleeding is the most serious side effect of warfarin. Seek immediate medical attention and have an urgent blood test if you experience any of the following side effects:
Immediate medical attention must also be sought if you:
Beta-blockers are a type of medication used to protect the heart from further damage after a heart attack. They help to relax the heart's muscles so the heart beats slower and the blood pressuredrops, both of which will reduce the strain on your heart.
It's usually recommended that you begin treatment with beta-blockers as soon as your condition stabilises, and continue taking them indefinitely.
Fairly common side effects of beta-blockers include:
Less common side effects include:
Beta-blockers can also interact with other medicines, causing possible adverse side effects.
Check with your GP or pharmacist before taking other medicines, including over-the-counter medication, in combination with beta-blockers.
Statins are a type of medication used to lower your blood cholesterol level. This will help prevent further damage to your coronary arteries and should reduce the risk of another heart attack.
Statins block the effects of an enzyme in your liver called HMG-CoA reductase, which is used to make cholesterol.
Statins sometimes have mild side effects, including:
Occasionally, statins can cause muscle pain, weakness and tenderness. Contact your GP if you experience these symptoms, as your dosage may need to be adjusted.
It's usually recommended that you take statins indefinitely.
Everyone who experiences a heart attack will face different problems and challenges, and any guidance or advice you receive will be tailored to your needs.
There are many local and national cardiac support groups where you can meet people who have been through a similar experience.
The British Heart Foundation has a helpline that offers confidential information about your recovery and advice about how to keep your heart healthy.
The helpline can be reached on 0300 330 3311 and is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
A heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.
Read about symptoms of a heart attacks, including chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling and being sick, and anxiety
Heart attacks are caused by the blood supply to the heart being suddenly interrupted, usually by a blood clot
If a heart attack is suspected, you should be admitted to hospital immediately. You will usually be admitted to an acute cardiac care unit (ACCU) so the diagnosis can be confirmed and treatment begin.
Read about treating a heart attacks, including an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)
Read about complications of a heart attack. Complications of a heart attack can vary widely, from mild to life threatening.
Read about recovering from a heart attack. Recovery can take several months, and it's very important not to rush your rehabilitation
Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to prevent having a heart attack (or having another heart attack).
Mike Smith has had three heart attacks. As he nears 60 and enjoys life to the full, he explains how the attacks affected him.
After a heart attack Debbie Siddons was too scared to pick up her 18-month-old baby. Rehabilitation helped her move on.
Following a heart attack, a quick diagnosis and emergency treatment saved Lynn Connors life.
Doctor enquires about breathing because patients often exhibit respiratory issues to the point of passing out. Doctor immediately recommends an EcG. Through the EcG, one determine the positioning of the ischemia, the degree of heart muscle involved in the ischemia.
Infarct is an ischemic necrosis of the myocardis, which comes as a consequence of the acute insufficiency of the coronary arteries. This comes as a consequence of the obstruction of coronary muscle blood vessels by a thrombus.
The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort that may travel into the shoulder, arm, back, neck, or jaw. Often it is in the center or left side of the chest and lasts for more than a few minutes.
Complications that might occur are: cardiogenic shock; progressive cardiogenic shock; septal rupture, rhythm disruptions; pericarditis, thromboembolism, left ventricle aneurysm.
Some of the risk factors of myocardial infarction include: hypertonic disease, disruptions in the metabolism of lipids, obesity, inherited hypercholesterolemia, biliary problems, age (above 50 years old), etc.
Pre-hospital treatment is very important, due to its crucial involvement in preserving and potentially saving the patientÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s life. Aiding and transporting the patient to the hospital immediately hold primary importance in saving the patientÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s life.