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It is important to pace yourself after a heart attack

The first few days and even weeks at home after having a heart attack can be difficult – you may wonder what is it safe to do, whether you should be going out and about, when you can expect to get back to work and start doing exercise.

There are no hard and fast rules to answer these questions – each person will feel differently and it depends on what life was like for you before your heart attack.

You are likely to have good days and bad days but as time goes by, you should improve steadily and gradually feel better.

A good rule of thumb is to gradually build up what you do and how active you are. Start off slowly, pace yourself, see how you feel and make a plan to get back to normal.

Marie Young, Psychologist talks about creating a plan for returning to activity, listening to your body and pacing yourself.

The 4 Week Plan

Week 1

At home: Pace yourself

Take small steps to gradually build up what you do: Get going with short ‘snacks’ of activity.

For example, make yourself a cup of tea, walk to the mail box, or walk while you talk on your mobile phone.

Make time for relaxation How do i do this?

Begin talking to family and friends about what has happened to you.

Week 2

At home: Judge your progress and gradually build up what you do

Start doing some light physical activity. Once your body is used to short ‘snacks’ of activity spread over the day,  start building up the amount of light physical activity that you do.

Start by doing about 10 minutes of continuous activity for example, take a leisurely walk on level ground, do light housework (not vacuuming) or some light gardening (nothing that requires too much bending, pulling, lifting or straining).

Judge your progress, listen to your body and then gradually build this up.

To find out more about what to look out for and the benefits of exercise.

Visit your family doctor (GP). Discuss what has happened to you, your follow-up care, medications and what you can do to help your recovery. This is a good time to talk to your GP about returning to work, driving and any other concerns you may have.

Keep practicing your relaxation techniques

Build up your information bank. Learn more about what has happened to you and what you can do to help you get back to normal.

Plan something enjoyable to do. For example: go to the cinema, listen to music, or go for a coffee with a friend.

Week 3

Look to the future and make a plan

Take stock of your progress: Think about your lifestyle, your risk factors, the advice you have been given, and the conversations you have had with your family and those close to you.  Make a note of all the things that you think are important for your health and recovery and the changes that you might want to make.

Decide what changes are most important to you. Involve your family in this too. Are my family at risk?

Don’t try to change everything at once. Choose one or two things that are really important to you.

Set a goal and plan small steps.

If you haven’t already spoken to your doctor about returning to work and driving, now is a good time to have this conversation.

How are you getting to grips with your medication? If you have any questions, concerns about your medication or feel you are experiencing side effects, visit your local pharmacist.

Learn about:

Returning to work

Driving and travel

Medication.

Build up your information bank. Learn more about what has happened to you and what you can do to help you get back to normal.

Plan something enjoyable to do this week. For example, have a leisurely walk on the beach, read a book or magazine, or go for a coffee with a friend.

Week 4

Putting your plan into action

Review your goals and action plans  – are they realistic?

Is anything getting in your way of achieving your goals?  How will you overcome this problem? Try goal setting. Learn more about goal setting.

Keep practising your relaxation techniques

Build up your information bank. Learn more about what has happened to you and what you can do to help you get back to normal.

Plan something enjoyable to do for example, go to a social gathering, go for a walk, go out for dinner with friends.

What is light physical activity?

Activity that doesn’t make you too breathless to speak.

  • Avoid lifting a weight that is almost too much for you to shift
  • Avoid straining or tugging with all your might
  • Avoid short sharp efforts that make you grunt.

I need to change lots of things in my life to help my recovery.
Small steps

in the right direction
ADD TO MY LIST

Discuss my action plan with my family/whānau

ADD TO MY LIST

Discuss developing an action plan with my doctor

Continue the journey

Depression and Anxiety
These feelings are a perfectly normal part of your recovery
Read more
Stress
Managing stress effectively can play a positive role
Read more

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