Living Well After a Heart Attack

Recovery from a heart attack may take several months. As you gradually get better, don’t go back to the same habits that may have led to your heart attack. Take your medications, and stick to the changes you’ve made to improve your heart and overall health. Here are more ways to help you live well after a heart attack.

Follow up with your provider

See your health care provider for follow-up visits as directed. During these visits, your provider will ask you about your medications and how well they are working. If needed, your provider may change your dosage or prescribe new medications. You may have tests done again, such as blood tests, EKGs, or exercise stress tests. If you have questions, keep a list and ask them during these visits.

Take care of yourself

Doctor pressing stethoscope to man's back and listening

  • Don’t push yourself. You may feel better, but listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard or too fast. If you go back to work, consider going part time at first.

  • Build in “stress breaks.” Every few hours, stop what you’re doing and do deep breathing or visualization.

  • Get enough sleep. This is especially important after a heart attack. Sleep helps your body heal.

  • Stay alert for signs of another heart attack. Get help right away if you think you’re having another heart attack. The sooner you get treatment, the less damage will be done to your heart.

  • Be mindful of the good habits you've learned so you don't regress back into your previously unhealthy lifestyle.

Rely on your supports

  • Friends, families, and co-workers may want to help but don’t know how. Be honest about your heart attack and give practical suggestions for helping out.

  • Tell friends, relatives, employers, and co-workers about limitations you have and how they can help.

  • Encourage friends and co-workers to share lunchtime walks and healthy snacks with you.

  • Pick a few close friends to encourage you whenever you have trouble with the changes you’re making.

  • Keep using support groups or cardiac rehab programs. These give ongoing support and structure for keeping heart-healthy changes for good.

  • Use your resources to help you adhere to your new lifestyle. This will allow you to make changes that last.

For family and friends

Your loved one will have ups and downs. That’s normal. Help him or her focus on the positive. Sticking to lifestyle changes will help your loved one feel better and be healthier. Keep in mind that if you make the same changes, it can help your loved one make and keep these new healthy habits. Always communicate your concerns with your loved ones and keep the conversation open.