The Road Back: Life After a Heart Attack
Every year, nearly 1 million
Americans survive a heart attack.
If you're one of them, you may be
facing not only physical, but also
emotional, challenges. You may wonder how
you'll ever get back to "normal" life. In fact,
the real road to recovery doesn't lead back. It
leads forward, to a new, healthier life.
Following a heart attack or other cardiac procedure, you may find it difficult to climb stairs or lift heavy objects. A cardiac rehabilitation program that includes an exercise regimen, combined with medication therapy, will help you achieve your goals.
"Patients want to know if they can scuba dive again, fly an airplane, lift that 40-pound grandchild. People want to get back to their lives," said Maryann Classick- Wallace, R.N., B.S.N., Cardiac Rehab Nurse Manager at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. "The only thing I say they can't do is shovel snow. Everything else is up for discussion."
Cardiac rehab is recommended for patients who've experienced the following conditions or procedures:
- Bypass surgery;
- Valve replacement;
- Heart attack;
- Coronary artery stent placement;
- Heart transplant.
Cardiac rehab patients generally come in three times a week for 12 weeks, Classick- Wallace said. Each session lasts one hour.
"We will exercise them up to 40 minutes at their target heart rate. We will teach them smoking cessation, if necessary, medication compliance and healthy cooking. We also will develop an individual exercise program for when they're finished with us," she said.
Healing Your Other Heart
Feelings like fear, anxiety and loneliness are normal after a heart attack. You may resent how people act around you after the attack. Or, you may worry about losing your job or your vitality down the line.
One of the best ways to handle these emotions is to talk with someone else. Ask your doctor to recommend a counselor or support group. Research shows that heart attack sufferers who have strong emotional support recover better than people who feel isolated.Lourdes Facts
Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is the largest provider of cardiac services in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. Services include:
- Cardiac surgery (open heart, valve replacement)
- Dedicated Heart Failure Clinic
- EECP for treatment of chest pain