I am
Long-term recovery after a heart attack
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'

Key takeaways

  • A heart attack can affect many areas of your life. 
  • There’s a lot of support available to help you recover after a heart attack and return to normal activities. 
  • Changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your long-term heart health. 
3 min read
After your heart attack, you’ll find that things have changed. Some people may even wonder if they’ll ever get ‘back to normal’.  

Normal may be different, so try to think of it as a ‘new normal’. Here’s some information to help you adjust. 

Getting on with things  

You’ve been told you can get back to your usual activities. But how much should you do? 

It’s important to be active. That’s what will help keep your heart healthy. To get started, speak to your doctor, nurse or cardiac rehab team. They’ll be able to guide you. 

Going back to work 

Returning to work or your other activities is an important part of your recovery. Speak to your employer to discuss your return to work and any changes that might need to be made first. 

Driving 

Check with your doctor before you start driving again. You will have to wait until your doctor gives you the go ahead. 

Money matters 

It’s common to worry about money after a heart attack – the costs can add up quickly. Try not to stress, many people are in the same position as you. Your doctor or social worker will be able to tell you where to get financial help. 

Feelings 

Feeling down after a heart attack is common and you may even experience anxiety or depression. There’s a lot of help available, through your doctor and also your friends and family. 

Relationships  

Your health may affect your relationships and your sex life. Know that help is available, and most concerns can be overcome. 

Support  

Your healthcare team will help look after you as you get better. You can recover faster by joining a cardiac rehab program or a support group. They’ll help improve your physical and emotional health.  

Stop smoking 

One of the most important ways to reduce your chances of having future heart problems is to quit smoking. It’s not easy, but there’s plenty of help available.  

Healthy diet 

Healthy eating and drinking will help your recovery and your future health. We have put together 5 easy tips for a heart-healthy diet. You can also get advice from your doctor or dietitian.  

Heart health risk factors 

Other health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or being overweight, can affect your heart. These are risk factors for having another heart attack. It's important to get help for these conditions to manage your heart and overall health. 

Being a carer 

Heart attacks happen suddenly and they can be a huge shock for friends and family. Being a carer can be a hard job, so be sure to look after yourself and accept some help.  

Staying on track 

Your recovery doesn't end when you leave hospital.  
 
There’ll be quite a bit of rehab, follow-ups and adjustments. These steps can help you thrive as a heart attack survivor: 
  1. Know the warning signs of a heart attack 
  2. Take your medications as prescribed 
  3. Make lifestyle changes 
  4. Join a cardiac rehabilitation program 
  5. Talk to your health care team regularly and let them know what’s going on. 

Find a cardiac rehabilitation program in your area

You might also be interested in

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since. ...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Explore some useful things to know about intimacy after a heart attack....

Quesadillas with avocado and tomato salsa

Quesadillas with avocado and tomato salsa

12 minutes
Serves 6 (as a side)

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

We value the support of all of our corporate partners....

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Information on women and heart disease for consumers....

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Understand blood pressure and how it can impact your heart health....

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

At first, it didn’t cross my mind it could be something serious. ...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

Resources for providing best practice cardiovascular care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Search through our tasty salad recipes...

Driving Best Practice CVD Prevention in a Post-COVID World

Driving Best Practice CVD Prevention in a Post-COVID World

Driving Best Practice CVD Prevention in a Post-COVID World

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

Family planning, interrupted

Family planning, interrupted

Family planning, interrupted

Cara Curan is 36 years old and from Coffs Harbour NSW. She is living with heart failure and coming to terms with what this means for her future....

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Partner with us to help us fight for Australian hearts....

Clinical guidelines and position statements

Clinical guidelines and position statements

Clinical guidelines and position statements

We have developed a range of resources for you to use as part of routine care. ...

Pregnancy and heart disease

Pregnancy and heart disease

Information and resources for health professionals....

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Resources to help you create a more physically active workplace....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Nutrition Position Statements

Nutrition Position Statements

Nutrition Position Statements

The Heart Foundation’s food and nutrition position statements have been developed to keep you informed about our position on a range of nutrition issues relating to heart health. ...

$8 million for research into Australia's biggest killer - heart disease

$8 million for research into Australia's biggest killer - heart disease

$8 million for research into Australia's biggest killer - heart disease

Media release - 3 June 2021...

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Every dollar that you donate will help fund research, support and programs that help save lives....