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Being active after your heart attack

Heart attack - activity; MI - activity; Myocardial infarction - activity; Cardiac rehabilitation - activity; ACS - activity; NSTEMI - activity; Acute coronary syndrome activity

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Being active after a heart attack

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Description

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked long enough that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. Starting a regular exercise program is important to your recovery after a heart attack.

When You're in the Hospital

You had a heart attack and were in the hospital. You may have had angioplasty and a stent placed in an artery to open a blocked artery in your heart.

What to Expect at Home

While you were in the hospital, you should have learned:

Your health care provider may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program to you. This program will help you learn what foods to eat and exercises to do to stay healthy. Eating well and exercising will help you start feeling healthy again.

Getting Started with Your Exercise

Before you start to exercise, your provider may have you do an exercise test. You should get exercise recommendations and an exercise plan. This may happen before you leave the hospital or soon afterward. DO NOT change your exercise plan before talking with your provider. The amount and intensity of your activity will depend on how active you were before the heart attack and how severe your heart attack was.

Take it easy at first:

Slowly increase how long you exercise at any one time. If you are up to it, repeat the activity 2 or 3 times during the day. You may want to try this very easy exercise schedule (but ask your doctor first):

After 6 weeks, you may be able to start swimming, but stay out of very cold or very hot water. You can also begin playing golf. Start easily with just hitting balls. Add to your golfing slowly, playing just a few holes at a time. Avoid golfing in very hot or cold weather.

Household Activities

You can do some things around the house to stay active, but always ask your provider first. Avoid a lot of activity on days that are very hot or cold. Some people will be able to do more after a heart attack. Others may have to start more slowly. Increase your activity level gradually by following these steps.

You may be able to cook light meals by the end of your first week. You can wash dishes or set the table if you feel up to it.

By the end of the second week you may start doing very light housework, such as making your bed. Go slowly.

After 4 weeks, you may be able to:

By 6 weeks, your provider may allow you to do more activities, such as heavier housework and exercise, but be careful.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you feel:

Also call if you have angina and it:

These changes may mean your heart disease is getting worse.

Related Information

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
High blood cholesterol levels
Angina
Heart bypass surgery
Chest pain
Heart bypass surgery - minimally invasive
Angina - discharge
Heart attack - discharge
Angioplasty and stent - heart - discharge
Aspirin and heart disease
Cardiac catheterization - discharge
Heart bypass surgery - discharge
Heart bypass surgery - minimally invasive - discharge
Heart attack - what to ask your doctor

References

Amsterdam EA, Wenger NK, Brindis RG, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC guideline for the management of patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndromes: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64(24):e139-e228. PMID: 25260718 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25260718.

Bohula EA, Morrow DA. ST-elevation myocardial infarction: management. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 59.

Fihn SD, Blankenship JC, Alexander KP, et al. 2014 ACC/AHA/AATS/PCNA/SCAI/STS focused update of the guideline for the diagnosis and management of patients with stable ischemic heart disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Circulation. 2014;130:1749-1767. PMID: 25070666 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25070666.

Giugliano RP, Braunwald E. Non-ST elevation acute coronary syndromes. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 60.

Morrow DA, de Lemos JA. Stable ischemic heart disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2019:chap 61.

O'Gara PT, Kushner FG, Ascheim DD, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of ST-elevation myocardial infarction: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. Circulation. 2013;127(4):529-555. PMID: 23247303 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23247303.

Thompson PD, Ades PA. Exercise-based, comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 54.

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Review Date: 7/25/2018  

Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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