Looking after yourself
If you have heart disease, it’s important to look after yourself and manage things that might lead to more heart problems.
If you’ve been in hospital for a heart condition or procedure, see your doctor as soon as you can after leaving. Take your medicines list or discharge information, and any test results.
A healthy lifestyle will help you feel better and look after you heart health.
- It’s important to be active when you have a heart condition. Learn more: How to stay active
- Follow a healthy eating plan. Learn more: How to eat right
- If you are overweight, aim to reach and keep to a healthy weight. Learn more: What's my ideal weight
- Giving up smoking and reducing your exposure to second-hand smoke will vastly reduce your risk of having any further heart problems. Learn more: Smoking
Talk to your doctor or health practitioner about what’s right for you.
Cholesterol and blood pressure
Get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your doctor about a care plan that’s right for you.
People with heart disease often have type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor about screening for diabetes.
Heart attack warning signs
If you have already had a heart attack, you are at higher risk of having another in the future. Make sure you know the warning signs and talk to your doctor or health practitioner about an action plan to follow if you experience chest pain or other symptoms of heart attack. Learn more: Know the heart attack warning signs
Are you recovering from a heart attack?
Learn more about heart attack recovery, including information on what happened to your heart, heart attack treatment and how you can recover sooner. Discover life after a heart attack.
Tell your doctor if you plan to take any medicines other than the ones they’ve prescribed, including over the counter medicines and complementary and alternative therapies.
Tell your doctor if you’re worried about side-effects from your medicines. Read more: Medicines and heart disease
It’s normal to have a lot of different feelings after a heart attack or other heart condition. You might feel sad, teary, worried, stressed, angry, lonely or guilty. Also, you may find yourself no longer enjoying the things you used to, you may have difficulties sleeping and feel you no longer have control over your life. For most, these feelings reduce over time. However, for some these get worse. It’s good to discuss these feelings with your doctor or nurse, or cardiac rehabilitation co-ordinator. Read more about how to manage emotional stress.
Sex after heart attack or other heart problems
Most people can have sex again soon after a heart attack or other heart problems.
If you can walk up 2 flights of stairs without getting chest pain or feeling short of breath, you’re probably well enough to have sex. (A flight of stairs is about 12 steps.)
If you’ve had heart surgery, wait until your breastbone is healed (about 6-8 weeks after the operation). Don’t put any pressure or stress on your chest. Some positions may be more comfortable than others.
Stop if you feel any pain or discomfort in your chest.
Try not to have sex after eating a large meal, drinking alcohol or when you are very tired.
Take things slowly – it can take time for a sexual relationship to get back to normal, It’s common to lose interest in sex for a little while. Some heart medicines can also reduce your interest or capacity for sex.
Talk with your partner or doctor about your feelings and worries about sex.
If you have a heart condition, you’re at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from the flu than the general population. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year. For more information visit the Flu Smart website www.flusmart.org.au.
The flu can also affect medicines like Warfarin. Some medicines used to relieve flu symptoms can interact with medicines prescribed for heart conditions.
Talk with your doctor:
- about whether you should have a flu vaccinations
- if you have flu-like symptoms
- before taking over the counter flu medicines.
During heatwaves, people with heart disease and those taking medicines for blood pressure or excess fluid (e.g. diuretics) need to take extra care.
As the temperature rises, the body tries to balance the heat by increasing blood flow and by sweating. Sweating can lead to dehydration, which puts more pressure on the heart.
Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about your health in the heat.
"My heart, my life" mobile app
This free, smart-phone app helps patients:
- manage their medicines
- manage their health stats including blood pressure and cholesterol
- learn the heart attack warning signs
- find healthier recipes.
- Download: My heart, my life. A guide to living with coronary heart disease (PDF)
- Download: Recovering from a heart attack (PDF)
- Learn more: A guide to cardiac rehabilitation
- Download: Reducing risk in heart disease (PDF)
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