Any cardiac or pulmonary event can be an incredibly frightening experience—something you likely have not planned for, and suddenly you’re in the hospital hooked up to a myriad of machines, in the care of experienced nurses and doctors, your head is swimming with the amount of information they’re giving you and your loved ones regarding lifestyle changes, recovery process and duration. Add these new concerns to the stresses of daily life and it is understandable the recovery from a heart attack can be just as much mental as it is physical. With this in mind, we assembled a collection of tips to help you through common pitfalls of recovery and lifestyle adjustments after you’ve completed the prescribed cardiac rehabilitation.
It Will Take Time – Be Patient Yet Persistent
While it will take time to return to full strength and schedule, remind yourself of this daily, hourly, or every time you’re feeling weak or out of breath. While this does mean you won’t be able to jump back into your daily routine immediately, it does not mean you have license to recline all day every day. Set small goals and stretch goals; each day work a little harder and rest when you need to. You’ll need to build up endurance slowly and safely.
“Cold Turkey” lifestyle changes are quite difficult, but there are a few you should work to quit immediately: smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are among those. Other changes that will take time may include dramatic dietary changes to reduce salt and sugar consumption, increase your vegetable portions (french fries excluded), focusing on vibrant colors: dark greens, brightly colored bell peppers, carrots, and other vegetables help lower inflammation and are densely packed with micronutrients that help your body reduce inflammation and better process long-chain fatty acids, many of which raise “bad” cholesterol.
Get Some Exercise
As noted above, the recovery will take time, and whether you were a marathoner before your event or out of breath walking down your block. The important fact is to begin to move. Follow your physician’s guidelines for exercise given your situation, though some healthy practices include stretches, yoga, brisk walk, breathing exercises, and light resistance workouts. Ask your doctor what she feels is a safe target heart rate for you at this stage, and wear a monitor.
Manage Your Stress
Easier said than done. This is going to be an exercise in depending on others. At work, delegate what you can, and religiously take brief breaks every few hours. Practice breathing exercises, meditation, or even light stretches. Depression and stress can increase your risk for heart disease or a future cardiac event; work on new practices daily until they become routine.
Tags: cardiovascular therapy, healthy living, heart attack, helpful tips