While it takes most people about 6-8 months to recover after a heart attack, overall recovery time depends on your general health, how severe the attack was, the type of treatment you received and when you received it. So it won’t be the same for everyone.
If your heart attack was relatively mild, it may take several weeks or months to recover. But if you had complications that led to open-heart or bypass surgery, it may take up to a year to fully recover.
What factors affect recovery time after a heart attack?
Age and underlying health conditions have a huge impact on how long it takes to recover. Some people may be able to go back to daily life 1-3 weeks after a heart attack. However, others may need more time either in a hospital setting or at home with nursing care. This is especially true for people who are over the age of 65, who may need 8 weeks or even longer because they are more prone to complications and often less active than younger patients.
Both physical and emotional recovery from a heart attack can be challenging for many people. After your first heart attack, your life may change in many ways. And while full recovery is possible, some may find that they can’t do as much as before or experience other health problems. This can lead to depression or anxiety.
Your best chance of getting back to normal is to follow your doctor’s advice. Make lifestyle changes and take any medications your doctor recommends. It’s also really important to go to cardiac rehabilitation sessions where you can get help, advice and support for recovery.
How can I take care of my heart at home?
Heart disease is serious, and it’s one of the leading causes of death. So no matter how you are, keeping your heart healthy is important to limit the risk of illness and complications. Here are some ways you can boost heart health at home:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Avoid excessive salt, fat and sugar. Use herbs and spices instead of salt. Walnuts and flaxseeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to decrease swelling in the arteries and protect the heart. They can also help lower cholesterol levels.
- Drink water at regular intervals (about 4-5 liters daily). This can help remove waste from the body as well as help your heart in pumping blood.
- Maintain a healthy weight according to your age and height.
- Stay away from alcohol and cigarette smoking.
- Do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, which can help burn excess fat and increase heart pumping capacity. Research shows that adults who are more active throughout the day are at lower risk of developing heart diseases. Regular sexual activity may also help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
- Take necessary medications for pre-existing diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, as directed by your physician.
- Use deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, prayer or other practices to de-stress. The connection between the mind and body has been proven to affect cardiovascular health.
- Keep to a regular sleep cycle. This may boost immunity and keep stress under check.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that regular health checkups can help your doctor monitor conditions that put you at risk of heart disease. Make sure to tell your doctor about habits such as use of alcohol and tobacco, unhealthy diet or physical inactivity. They can help you identify lifestyle changes you can make to get your heart health back on track.
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WebMD. What You Should Do After a Heart Attack. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/what-to-do-after-a-heart-attack
Harvard Health Publishing. 10 Small Steps for Better Heart Health. February 2010. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/10-small-steps-for-better-heart-health