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05 January 2009

Going home: the first few weeks

As a heart patient, it's important to resume physical activity when you get home. Although exercise is necessary to prevent another attack, it should be done in moderation.

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As a heart patient, it's important to resume physical activity when you get home. Although exercise is necessary to prevent another attack, it should be done in moderation and with the help of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

The following guidelines could help in getting you up and about:

First week at home

  • Use the exercises given to you at the time of discharge as a guideline for the first week.
  • Shower every day or take a bath. Do not stand for too long periods at a time and try to relax.
  • Ask someone else to make your bed.
  • Adhere to the physiotherapist’s walking programme. This programme should be continued throughout the recovery period.
  • Don’t drive. If you need to travel, it should only be for short distances at a time and someone else should do the driving.
  • Don’t do your own shopping. Ask a family member or friend to do it for you.
  • Leisurely activities while sitting - like reading, playing cards, building a puzzle or watching television - can aid in making life less mundane.
  • Limit visitors and telephone calls, as you still need to rest.

Second week at home

  • All the above-mentioned activities should be continued.
  • Although you may not make your own bed yet, you can tidy it yourself.
  • Try to go on short outings, but ask someone else to drive.
  • Try to rest at least twice a day.
  • You may water your garden and wash the dishes, but shouldn’t do heavier household chores.
  • Try doing activities where you can sit.

Third to fifth week at home

  • All the above-mentioned activities should be continued.
  • At last you can make your own bed!
  • You may drive your car for short distances, but heavy traffic should be avoided.
  • You may do your own shopping. Use a trolley to avoid having to carry the parcels.
  • You may prepare meals and do other light household chores such as washing light clothing or ironing (sitting) for 30 minutes.
  • You may resume social activities of a leisurely nature.

Sixth week at home

  • All the above-mentioned activities should be continued.
  • Normal household chores may gradually be increased.
  • You may return to work if your doctor agrees.

The following activities may help you to resume your normal lifestyle, starting with the least tiring activities and building up to the most energy consuming:

  • Writing, chatting, typing, watching television.
  • Light gardening, light ironing, preparing light meals.
  • Driving, fishing, shopping.
  • Playing table tennis, dancing, playing golf (use a caddy to carry the clubs).

Source:
"Heart attack: what now?" produced by Parke-Davis, courtesy of the Heart Foundation of South Africa.

- (Updated January 2009)

 
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