There are 4 recognised phases of recovery after a heart attack. These are:
- Phase I: inpatient stage. During this phase medical evaluation, reassurance and education, risk factor assessment, mobilisation and planning for discharge home are the main goals.
- Phase II: is the early post discharge period before the start of any formal exercise programme. This is a time when many people feel isolated and insecure. Support can be provided by home visiting, telephone contact etc.
- Phase III: the period following discharge when it is appropriate for a formal cardiac rehabilitation programme to begin. This is usually from 6 weeks onwards after a heart attack.
- Phase IV: the moving on stage. During this stage people are encouraged to make, and maintain, adjustments towards a healthier more active lifestyle. Heart support groups, local leisure services and exercise programmes are promoted.
Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme
Many hospitals have a cardiac rehabilitation programme, run by cardiac rehabilitation nurses and physiotherapists, which will help you regain your fitness and confidence as well as providing you with information and advice.
This type of programme can be adapted for you, whatever your level of fitness. You are normally ready to start a rehabilitation programme approximately 6 weeks after your heart attack.
Comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation consists of:
- Exercise training
- Challenging and changing unhelpful behaviour patterns
- Emotional and psychological support
Heart Manual Programme
Alternatively your local area may use the Heart Manual Programme which begins from week one (after your heart attack) and is organised for you by a local facilitator (a health professional, often a nurse, who has had special training to help you follow the manual and will support you during your recovery).
Again this method includes information and advice about all aspects of recovery and also uses a paced return to activity.
If neither of these options are offered to you ask your doctor if there is something you could attend near you.
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