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Heart Attack Recovery

Heart Attack Recovery: Returning to Usual Activities

After a heart attack, most people are able to return to their normal activities, including:
  • Driving
  • Physical activity
  • Work
  • Sexual activity
  • Strenuous activities (running, heavy lifting, etc.)
  • Air travel.
Following an uncomplicated heart attack, many people without chest pain can safely return to most of their usual activities within a few weeks. Most can begin walking immediately. Sexual activity with the usual partner can also begin within a few weeks for most people who do not have chest pain or other complications.
If allowed by state law, most people who do not have chest pain or other complications can usually begin driving again within a week. Each state has specific rules for driving a motor vehicle following a serious illness. People with complications or chest pain should not drive until their symptoms have been stable for a few weeks.
Make sure that you talk to your doctor about when it is okay to return to each of these activities.

Lifestyle Changes as Part of Heart Attack Recovery

Everyone who has had a heart attack needs to make some lifestyle changes as part of the recovery process. These changes involve minimizing the risk factors for another heart attack. Some of these lifestyle changes can include:
Adopting new habits, such as not smoking, following a heart-healthy eating plan, maintaining a healthy weight, and becoming more physically active, can go a long way in helping to reduce your risk of complications from heart disease. You may need to manage certain risk factors persistently. For example, having a heart attack means that if you have high levels of a type of cholesterol called low density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad cholesterol," your goal should be to bring the level to below 100 mg/dL. Go over your heart disease risk factors with your healthcare provider and discuss how to reduce or eliminate each one.
(Click Preventing Heart Attacks for more information.)
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