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You've had a heart event. Now you are recovering

What can you expect and what should you do?

Recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery generally follows four phases.

The first phase is while you are in the hospital. During this time your main priority is coping with the trauma to your body and adjusting to your altered reality. Your caregivers will guide you through the steps you need to follow in the hospital.

While you are in hospital or after you return home you may be asked if you are willing to participate in heart disease research.

The second phase is your early recovery once you go home. Your activities and your energy will be limited during this phase. Again, your doctor and medical caregivers will give you advice regarding what you can and can't do and your recommended activity levels.

The third phase is about six to 12 weeks after your hospitalization. You may be participating in a cardiac rehab program to help you gain confidence and make the lifestyle changes necessary for your future health - such asquitting smoking, modifying yourdiet, reducing your weight,reducing your blood pressure orcholesterol, and implementing an appropriate exercise program.

The final phase is your ongoing smart heart living. Although you have heart disease - and that won't change, you can do a lot to ensure you are leading a heart healthy lifestyle, to maximize your quality of life, and reduce your risks of another heart event. You've been given a second chance. But this is going to require some effort and some changes on your part.

That's where this web site comes in. We can help by providing support, information, and resources.

As well, the support of family and friends cannot be underestimated. The people closest to you can help you adjust to your new reality, and support you as you make changes in your life.

Many people report that having a heart event creates a turning point in their lives where, as a result, they make positive changes. There's an opportunity to re-evaluate what's important to you and to appreciate the blessings you have.

Are you happy with your doctor?

Your medical support team - your primary care or family physician and your cardiologist - are important to your recovery. If you're not happy with the care you are receiving or the relationship you have with your doctors youcan make changes. Finding a cardiologist can be a bit daunting but it's important to feel confident and comfortable.

After a heart event, some of the common concerns you may experience are

You may want to change your diet or start an exercise program but just don't know where to start. Sometimes people experience stress ordepression following a heart event. Sometimes it's as basic as "how do I know when to call the doctor?"

You may have concerns about your incision and scar.

Personally, I experienced a difficult recovery and remember feeling very dejected (five times in hospital in five months!) and wondering if I'd everfeel healthy again. It's now 4 years since I "turned the corner" and moved beyond my recovery. I've had times when I've worried about some twinge or pain or been terrified that I'm going to get into trouble again, but today, I'm living a very active and heart healthy life - and I hope I'll do so for many, many years to come.

Check out these links or browse the site for more information to help you with Smart Heart Living. If you have questions you'd like to see answered on the site, or if you have an experience to share, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.


While you are recovering we recommend:

Keep a smart heart binder - all your records related to your heart disease, recovery, medications, etc. in one place. More...

Here's a book I found very helpful.
The Complete Guide to Life After Heart Attack or Heart Surgery



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