How Soon Can I go Back to Work?
This will also vary from person to person, but also from job to job. The more severe your heart attack and/or the more physically or psychologically demanding your job is, the longer you will be away from work.
In some cases, people recovering from heart attacks have opted to switch jobs entirely if it contributed to their heart attack in any way. Don’t think that such a decision makes you weak or less formidable of a person – you need to take care of your health.
If a new job or place of employment is necessary to achieve that, then make it happen!
How Long Until I Can Be Intimate With My Partner?
In general, you should wait between 2-3 weeks after heart attack to have sex again. Again, the more severe the heart attack, the longer you may have to wait.
Many doctors advise using a rule of thumb similar to this: if you can engage in moderate physical activities – like a brisk walk or climbing two flights of stairs – without signs of angina or physical strain, then you should be able to resume sexual activities (9). Just be sure to start out slow.
For men, suffering from a heart attack can lead to erectile dysfunction. This is mainly due to the anxiety and stress of having a heart attack. Make sure to talk to your partner and doctor about your concerns and ease back into intimacy.
Preventing a Heart Attack
The first step in preventing future heart attacks is identifying and understanding what caused your first heart attack. Your past health history, genetics, and lifestyle choices will play just an important of a role in your recovery as they did in your initial heart attack.
1. Monitor Your Cholesterol
The term high cholesterol is a bit misleading as there are two types of cholesterol: HDL (good) and LDL (bad). LDL cholesterol builds up in your system, raising blood pressure and causing blockages that lead to heart attacks (10).
HDL cholesterol helps clean up LDL and prevents plaque build-up. If you don’t have enough HDL to keep your LDL in check, you’ll start having problems.
2. Take a Look at Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the hallmarks of heart disease. The harder your heart has to pump to push oxygenated blood through your body, the more damage it’ll have (11). High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke.
High blood pressure often accompanies high LDL cholesterol levels, as the build-up of plaque in the arteries creates resistance – a quite literal bottleneck for blood to pass through (12).
Regular exercise and a low-sodium diet are recommended for anyone with elevated blood pressure. It’s also important to keep your stress in check.
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking tobacco, whether it be by cigar, cigarette, or vape pen, raises your risk of heart disease more than almost any other external factor known to man (13).
The nicotine in tobacco elevates your blood pressure, placing stress on your heart and blood vessels. Smoking also damages your lungs, making it more difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs to survive. Plus, tobacco usage also puts you at a very high risk for blood clots, which can lead to blockages– leading to a heart attack (14).
Talk to your doctor or naturopath about quitting tobacco. They can give you valuable naturals tools to make smoking cessation easier and less stressful. FYI: second hand smoke is just as damaging to your body, so avoid hanging around smokers.
4. Change Your Lifestyle
Diet and exercise, regardless of your specific heart disease, are an important part of getting and staying healthy.
Avoid overly fatty foods, especially food that contains trans fats – which are directly related to increased cholesterol. Stick to a low-sodium diet plan and reduce your consumption of processed foods. It’s also important to reduce sugar intake (15).
As for exercise, start a strength training and cardio program and aim for 30 or more minutes of cardiovascular exercise several times per week (16). Join a gym that offers coaching and classes so you can make exercise as enjoyable as possible and prevent injury. Make sure to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout
Lastly, take care of your mental health. Heart attacks are serious and can take a significant toll on your emotions and state of mind. It’s also important to identify any stress factors that could have contributed to your heart attack and learn how to cope.
Depression can also raise your risk of heart disease. Don’t be ashamed to seek help in this area – be strong enough to ask for help and take control.