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Long-term recovery after a heart attack
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'

Key takeaways

  • A heart attack can affect many areas of your life. 
  • There’s a lot of support available to help you recover after a heart attack and return to normal activities. 
  • Changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your long-term heart health. 
3 min read
After your heart attack, you’ll find that things have changed. Some people may even wonder if they’ll ever get ‘back to normal’.  

Normal may be different, so try to think of it as a ‘new normal’. Here’s some information to help you adjust. 

Getting on with things  

You’ve been told you can get back to your usual activities. But how much should you do? 

It’s important to be active. That’s what will help keep your heart healthy. To get started, speak to your doctor, nurse or cardiac rehab team. They’ll be able to guide you. 

Going back to work 

Returning to work or your other activities is an important part of your recovery. Speak to your employer to discuss your return to work and any changes that might need to be made first. 

Driving 

Check with your doctor before you start driving again. You will have to wait until your doctor gives you the go ahead. 

Money matters 

It’s common to worry about money after a heart attack – the costs can add up quickly. Try not to stress, many people are in the same position as you. Your doctor or social worker will be able to tell you where to get financial help. 

Feelings 

Feeling down after a heart attack is common and you may even experience anxiety or depression. There’s a lot of help available, through your doctor and also your friends and family. 

Relationships  

Your health may affect your relationships and your sex life. Know that help is available, and most concerns can be overcome. 

Support  

Your healthcare team will help look after you as you get better. You can recover faster by joining a cardiac rehab program or a support group. They’ll help improve your physical and emotional health.  

Stop smoking 

One of the most important ways to reduce your chances of having future heart problems is to quit smoking. It’s not easy, but there’s plenty of help available.  

Healthy diet 

Healthy eating and drinking will help your recovery and your future health. We have put together 5 easy tips for a heart-healthy diet. You can also get advice from your doctor or dietitian.  

Heart health risk factors 

Other health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or being overweight, can affect your heart. These are risk factors for having another heart attack. It's important to get help for these conditions to manage your heart and overall health. 

Being a carer 

Heart attacks happen suddenly and they can be a huge shock for friends and family. Being a carer can be a hard job, so be sure to look after yourself and accept some help.  

Staying on track 

Your recovery doesn't end when you leave hospital.  
 
There’ll be quite a bit of rehab, follow-ups and adjustments. These steps can help you thrive as a heart attack survivor: 
  1. Know the warning signs of a heart attack 
  2. Take your medications as prescribed 
  3. Make lifestyle changes 
  4. Join a cardiac rehabilitation program 
  5. Talk to your health care team regularly and let them know what’s going on. 

Find a cardiac rehabilitation program in your area

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