When to start physical activity after a heart attack

ALOR SETAR: Anyone who has experienced a heart attack must know their heart condition before resuming regular physical activity, said cardiologist Dr Abdul Rahim Tahir.

Dr Abdul Rahim of Kedah Medical Centre said it is important to make sure that your heart is ready and able to take the pressure as you start to go about to do your household chores or return to your work routine before the heart attack.

“Generally, when you get a heart attack the first thing a patient needs to know and ask the doctor is, what level of heart attack was experienced or how serious was it.

“If the doctor says your heart failure is stable, then the heart is not weak or enlarged and this will not be a problem but if the heart is weak and enlarged, this is a serious matter,” he told Bernama here.

On when will be the right time for the patient to return to physical activities such as strenuous exercise, he said, normally the patient will be allowed to move around indoors at a controlled pace, a week after the heart attack.

“Apart from taking medicines, controlling their blood pressure or sugar level, patients can go about doing their regular routine at a comfortable pace without using much energy.

“Lifting heavy objects like a gas cylinder or carrying a child should be avoided in the first week, as this will overwork your heart. If your chest hurts, slow down and refrain from doing too many things,” said Dr Abdul Rahim.

He said physical activity can be increased after a week or two, but patients are advised not to exert themselves or do vigorous physical activity to maintain a healthy heart.

“You can go outdoors, take walks of about 500-metre distance without exerting yourself and after the first week of walking, try to walk up the stairs to the first floor at normal speed and if there are no symptoms or you are not tired, then you are ready for more strenuous activities, ” he said.

As for patients with heart failure and an enlarged heart, they are advised to take extra precautions.

“Light activities are allowed but when they get tired or start having palpitations they need to slow down, have more rest, but this doesn’t mean they can just lie down, as they can always move around the house, and occasionally get out to get some fresh air.

“When you are about to embark on a physical activity get your medicines or spray ready. If you feel any tightness in the chest, stay calm, rest, slow down to take deep breaths and take your medicines, he said.

He said patients with heart failure are also advised to have their phones with them and to immediately seek help if the chest pain or tightness does not improve after resting and taking their medicines.

He said some heart attack patients take a long time to fully recover and if they do not get enough rest during rehabilitation, their condition may worsen.

“Follow the advice given by your personal physician, dietician and pharmacist instead of getting various inaccurate information from friends. If you are confused, seek expert advice,” he said. – Bernama

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