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Caring for Someone After a Heart Attack

Recovery from a heart attack will be different for each person depending on the severity of the attack and cause. Family members may become caregivers, or it might be necessary to bring in qualified help with professional caregivers for support.

Heart Attack After Care

The #1 goal of after care for heart attacks is to avoid having another one. According to the Cleveland Clinic, heart attack recovery can take from two weeks to three months. The recovery time will depend on things like how quickly treatment was received, the severity of the attack, the type of treatment, and overall wellbeing.

Lifestyle changes should be made, along with doctor-prescribed cardiac rehab. If you’re caring for someone after a heart attack, you may need to monitor the following activities:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Daily exercise
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet

A caregiver can assist with meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and socialization while dining.

What to Expect After a Mild Heart Attack

Life after a heart attack might be different in the short term or someone might need to make lifelong adjustments to stay healthy—even if you had a mild heart attack. The American Heart Association states that while most people go on to live productive lives after a heart attack, “more than a quarter of patients are readmitted to the hospital within 90 days of discharge.” This 90-day window is critical because it’s when second heart attacks are more likely to occur.

Furthermore, having a second heart attack during this time is linked to an increased risk of death in the next five years.

In order to maintain health and avoid this fate, aim to do the following things:

  • Get support for your emotional and physical wellbeing.
  • Take all prescribed medications.
  • Sign up for cardiac rehabilitation.
  • Manage risk factors such as weight, diet, exercise, and blood pressure.
  • Go to all follow-up appointments.

Recovery After a Massive Heart Attack

Don’t rush things if you’ve had a massive heart attack, or push someone you’re caring for to get back to normal too soon. A doctor can prescribe the right amount of rest and activity so that you are healing and exercising in the right capacity for your body.

Chances are that you may have had surgery to address the underlying reason for the heart attack, and you will also need post-surgery care in the home. A caregiver can help with assisted mobility, getting dressed each day, and medication reminders that are all crucial to wellbeing.

Some simple things you can do at home as you recover include household chores (such as dishes or anything that doesn’t involve heavy lifting), limiting use of stairs (ask someone else to lug the laundry up or down the basement stairs, then offer to fold the laundry, for example), and resting or taking a nap when you feel fatigued during the day.

Check out these exercises for heart attack survivors and discuss what’s right for you with your healthcare provider.

Know that it is normal to feel depressed, scared, fearful or angry after having a heart attack—and your loved ones will be going through their own emotions as they join the recovery process. There is no single way for how to recover after a heart attack, whether it’s mild or massive, so be open with your medical team and family and friends about how you’re feeling and what support you night need.

Homewatch CareGivers and After Care for Heart Attack

Whether you need post-surgery care or another level of care that you can find with Homewatch CareGivers Total Care Solutions™, a trained caregiver can be there to offer respite care for family members. Contact your local Homewatch CareGivers office today to find out more about home care and heart attack recovery options.

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