A heart attack affects more than just the heart muscle. Emotions, self-confidence and plans for the future can all take a beating in the days and weeks following this traumatic event. Here are a few guidelines for moving forward and making the transition back to a heart-healthy life.
1. Understand what went wrong and what you can do about it.
Knowing what contributed to your heart attack—high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, etc.—will help you understand why certain medications are being prescribed for you. It will also make you a more informed participant in a personalized exercise program.
2. Make the most of your cardiac rehab program.
A cardiac rehab program gives you the opportunity to begin a regular exercise program under the watchful eye of cardiac rehab specialists. Your team is also a great source of information about all aspects of heart attack recovery.
3. Plan your physical activity schedule each week.
In addition to your cardiac rehab appointments, keep up with other doctor-approved exercises, such as walking or climbing stairs. Try to exercise at the same time each day. This will help establish a habit and also reduce the impact that the timing of medication or meals might have on your physical activity.
4. Walk, walk and walk some more.
Walking is such good exercise because it uses leg, abdominal and back muscles. You can also adjust the speed and intensity of your walk as you progress.
5. Be safe.
In the early weeks of rehab, stay close to home when you go for a walk, or walk with a friend. And at all times, if you experience shortness of breath, chest discomfort or increasing fatigue, stop exercising and contact your doctor.
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