Heart Attack Recovery

Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, changing your diet, and increasing your physical activity, are important when recovering from a heart attack. Cardiac rehabilitation programs help people throughout their recovery; these programs include education on heart-healthy living, exercise training, and counseling to reduce stress and help people return to an active life. Medications can also be prescribed during heart attack recovery.

Recovering From a Heart Attack: An Overview

Millions of people have survived a heart attack, and many have a complete recovery and are able to lead full and productive lives.
 
During the heart attack recovery period, your goals are to:
 
  • Recover and resume normal activities as much as possible
  • Prevent another heart attack
  • Prevent complications, such as heart failure or cardiac arrest.
     
After a heart attack, you will need to see your doctor regularly for checkups and tests to see how your heart is doing. Your doctor will also most likely recommend:
 

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.
 
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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