Life After a Heart Attack

Updated:Sep 16,2016

Life after a heart attack: Explore your options

You had a heart attack. Now what? After a first heart attack, most people go on to live a long, productive life. But having a heart attack does mean you need to make some changes. Your heart is in your hands: you have the power to care for your heart by managing your condition and living a healthy lifestyle.

What To Expect
Questions, confusion, fear, and uncertainty are normal and common. Here are some FAQs about recovery.

Recovering After a Heart Attack 
Recovery is a lifelong journey. Getting – and keeping – your heart healthy will help lower your risk of having another heart attack. Here are five things you can do:

Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. After your heart attack, your doctor probably prescribed new medications to help treat and control your condition. It is important to understand your medications. Be sure you know the answers to the following questions. What are the names of your medications? What do each of your medications do? How and when should you take your medications? What are the possible side effects? What should you do if you experience side effects? Learn more about typical heart attack medications.

Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments will help your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery. You can make the most of your time with your doctor by preparing for your appointment.

Participate in cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation, or CR, is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital. Learn more about CR here.

Get support. It is normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or from people who have also had a heart attack can help you cope. Connect with other heart attack survivors and caregivers through our Support Network.

Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, it is important to manage risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by taking medications, quitting smoking, eating healthy food, and getting active. Find out more about managing your risk factors.

This content was last reviewed June 2016.

Heart Attack Recovery Series in Heart Insight Magazine

HI Magazine coverAfter a Heart Attack: What Happens Now?
If you don’t know the answer, you’re not alone. Many survivors feel scared, confused and overwhelmed after a heart attack. Read the first in our four-part series to help guide your steps and connect with resources to support your recovery.

Up and At 'em!
In the 50s, a patient was likely to have their doctor prescribe 12 weeks of bedrest. Today’s patients may not even get 12 hours before they’re out of bed. This article focuses on the importance of cardiac rehabilitation.

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