After having a heart attack and/or stent, it is vital that you return slowly to activity at home, so that your heart has time to heal.
Progress in stages
These guidelines are set out in stages of increasing activity, from 1 to 4. Everyone moves forward at different rates, depending on their heart condition, age and previous level of activity.
Stage 1: Sedentary activity
Your activity level will be similar to that in hospital. It is important to
get plenty of rest as you recover. Aim to be at home. Limit visitors and phone calls, and avoid strenuous household chores such as vacuuming.
Your routine could include:
- dressing and showering
- relaxing around the house and garden
- regular rest breaks and an afternoon rest if needed
- climbing stairs – two flights per day (climb slowly, rest halfway)
- preparing light snacks, washing dishes
- watering and tending plants
- watching TV, reading
- short car trips (20 minutes) as passenger
Do only light, home-based tasks, such as desk or computer work.
Start considering goals for work-life balance. Reflect on the need to pursue other aspects of your life, apart from meeting work demands.
Stage 2: Light activity
These activities require you to gradually return to your daily activities. Make sure you take regular rest breaks, and sit to do tasks if required. Activities include:
- resuming light home duties when you feel able (preparing meals, dishes, tidying, laundry)
- climbing stairs – up to four flights per day (resting halfway)
- light gardening for short periods (gentle cutting, weeding while seated, potting)
- light, low-resistance workshop activity (varnishing, sanding)
- light hobbies (art, photography, sewing)
- quiet outings – dinner, movie, coffee, church.
Continue light duties (2–4 hours), based at home.
Stage 3: Moderate activity
These activities should not feel like hard work or make
you feel overly tired or rushed at any time. Suggested activities:
- moderate home duties for short periods as able (gentle mopping, sweeping, hose and wipe car, clean windows).
- climbing stairs as normal
- gentle sexual activity
- moderate garden activities for short periods as able (light pruning, raking, planting)
- light handyman/maintenance activity (repairs, easy painting tasks)
- longer outings (club, concert, shopping – get help lifting groceries)
- moderate hobby activities.
Deskwork, computing, administration - 11-12 days, home based.
Stage 4: Normal tasks
- normal home-duties, taking breaks (vacuuming, cleaning bathroom)
- near-normal garden and maintenance jobs (light digging, mow small flat lawn, short, light wheelbarrow loads
- normal hobbies and outings - upgrade gradually
- gentle sports, gradually increasing intensity and frequency, in consultation with your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation team.
This information was first published in You and Your Heart - an education booklet for patients, families and friends. © 2006 Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service