“I’ve just had a heart attack. I can’t believe it!! Will I ever be the same again? I bet there are lots of things I won’t be able to do now!”

Whilst there are some things which you may need to reduce or stop, there are plenty of things that you will be able to do again. What’s most important now is that you get the right advice and treatment.

Well, that sounds okay, so where can I get started? I obviously want to reduce my risk of having another heart attack.

The first thing to do is attend the local cardiac rehabilitation programme run by the local hospital. The programme and professionals who run the specialist unit will help to put you on the right road to recovery and they will personally be accessed by a medical professional.
The will can give advice on what exercise is safe for you and what levels you can reach safely whilst exercising.

They will also look at any risk factors you might have, such as:

– Smoking
– High blood pressure
– Cholesterol
– Being overweight
– Lack of exercise

When you have completed cardiac rehabilitation programme, it’s worth finding out how else you can remain physically active. Exercise referrals schemes which are delivered in the community may be available such as PARiS Scheme (Physical Activity Referral in Stockport). This will provide support from an Exercise Specialist to continue your exercise safely.
Surely exercise can be a bit risky can’t it?

The right exercise plan can be extremely beneficial and it can be a key part of your treatment. It can also prevent further heart problems in the future, as well as helping you to get them fitter and help cope with general everyday demands. Some people report being fitter after the programme/s than before they suffered their heart attack!!

Did you know exercise can help to:

– Lower your blood pressure
– Help you to lose weight (but in most cases, you must change your eating habits too)
– Lower your cholesterol level and increase good cholesterol
– It can help you to relax, thereby reducing stress and anxiety
– Reduce symptoms of angina, breathlessness and fatigue

So what type of exercise is best?

The type that they enjoy and are likely to continue with on a regular basis! Exercises that help to build up stamina e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, exercise classes and gym based programmes are very beneficial as they can strengthen the heart and help it work more efficiently.

How should I feel during my exercise session?
You will be told to listen to your body and think about how it compares with how you felt during their cardiac rehabilitation programme.

You should feel your breathing rate increase but should still feel comfortable to be able to continue. It is fine to feel “exertion”, so long as you are not struggling.

If you feel exhausted following exercise, you may have worked too hard, for too long or the exercise may have been too demanding for you. Think about reducing the pace at which you are working! Remember start low and go slow (build up over weeks & months)!!

What about warming up and cooling down?

This is a really important part of their exercise session. The activity in the first 15 minutes and last 10 minutes of the session should be performed at a lower Intensity and pace than the main exercise session.

When should they NOT or STOP exercising?

• Don’t exercise if you feel unwell
• After eating a heavy meal, wait until it’s digested
• If you experience any chest pain or discomfort, palpitations, dizziness or light headedness

Exercise Tips:

• Watch the session before you take part if you’re feeling unsure
• Speak to the Instructor if you have any concerns
• Work at your own pace and don’t try to keep up with others
• Dress appropriately with comfortable footwear
• Remember to keep hydrated throughout the session
• Always carry any reliever medication with you e.g. GTN spray, Inhalers
• Attend regular follow up meetings with your instructor to discuss progress