What to Expect Recovering from a Heart Attack

With proper medical attention, heart attack survivors can continue to live for many more years, however, their lives might be considerably changed. Depending on the severity of the heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction (AMI), people over 65 may need at least 8 weeks of recovery time, but adults further in age may be even more prone to complications, which would necessitate additional care.


What lifestyle changes can be expected after a heart attack?

Depression, fear, and anger affect at least one-fourth of heart attack victims afterward. The good news is that when regular daily activities resume, these negative effects tend to diminish. It’s important for your loved one to get rest and good sleep, but it’s also wise to get back to hobbies that were previously enjoyed. Sharing feelings with family members, a close friend, clergy or support group is healthy.


For at least the first week a heart attack patient is home, he or she will feel weak or exhausted. This is normal because heart attacks damage heart muscle and bed rest in the hospital creates further weakness from lack of activity. Follow doctors’ advice, of course, but when a patient arrives home, there are usually expectations of the patient being able to dress daily, bathe, and take care of personal hygiene. Energy, strength and stamina increase from walking as prescribed by the physician. A slow, incremental return to home duties such as cooking, cleaning and laundry will help the patient feel normal again, although he or she may need to learn energy-conserving techniques from an occupational therapist or caregiver. Lifting, pushing and pulling heavy objects must be avoided until the doctor approves.


A heart-healthy diet will most likely be recommended, often somewhat restricted. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes with small amounts of high-quality protein foods are best. Complex carbohydrates can increase energy reserves, but simple carbs and high-sugar foods are best avoided.


Medications may be prescribed to prevent blood clots and improve heart performance. Prescriptions may be given for irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, or pain and discomfort. The proper dosage must be taken exactly as prescribed, sometimes with food or on an empty stomach, and sometimes alternating days or times of the day.


Many lifestyle changes and adjustments may be recommended after a heart attack, but Comfort Keepers® is here to help. Our professional caregivers can help with transportation to doctor appointments, light housekeeping, and preparing meals. Even additional conversation with a caregiver can benefit a loved one during recuperation. Call us today and ask how we can help during a post-heart attack recovery.


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