Coronary heart disease - Recovery 

Recovering from heart disease 

After having heart surgery or problems like a heart attack, it is possible to resume a normal life.

Cardiac rehabilitation programme

If you have heart surgery, a member of the cardiac rehabilitation team may visit you in hospital to give you information about your condition and the procedure you are having. This care will usually continue after you have left hospital. For the first few weeks following your surgery, a member of the cardiac rehabilitation team may visit you at home or call you to check on your progress.

What happens in cardiac rehabilitation programmes can vary widely throughout the country, but most will cover the following basic areas:

  • exercise
  • education
  • relaxation and emotional support

Once you have completed your rehabilitation programme, it is important you continue to take regular exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle. This will help protect your heart and reduce the risk of further heart-related problems.

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Self-care

Self-care is an integral part of daily life, and is all about you taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing with the support of those involved in your care. Self-care includes actions you take for yourself every day in order to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health, prevent illness or accidents, and care more effectively for minor ailments and long-term conditions.

People living with long-term conditions can benefit enormously from being supported so they reach self-care. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, have a better quality of life, and be more active and independent.

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Support groups

If you have or have had a heart condition, or if you are caring for someone with a heart condition, you might find it useful to meet other people in your area who are in a similar situation. There are a number of heart support groups around the UK that organise regular exercise sessions, such as walking groups, as well as other social activities. Your GP or specialist can provide you with details about your nearest group.

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Relationships and sex

Coming to terms with a long-term condition such as heart disease can put a strain on you, your family and your friends. It can be difficult to talk with people about your condition, even if they are close to you. Be open about how you feel and let your family and friends know what they can do to help. But do not feel shy about telling them that you need some time to yourself.

Your sex life

If you have coronary heart disease (CHD) or you have recently had heart surgery, you may be concerned about having sex. Usually, as soon as you feel well enough you can resume sexual activity. Communicate with your partner and stay open-minded. Explore what you both like sexually. Simply touching, being touched and being close to someone helps a person feel loved and special.

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Returning to work

After recovering from heart surgery, you should be able to return to work, but it may be necessary to change the type of work you do. For example, you may not be able to do a job that involves heavy physical exertion. Your specialist will be able to advise you about when you can return to work and what type of activities you should avoid.

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Financial support

If you are unable to work after having heart surgery, you may be entitled to financial support, such as:

If you are caring for someone who has heart disease, you may also be entitled to financial support.

To find out if you are entitled to financial support, you can contact your local Social Security department. To request a claim form, you can call the benefit enquiry line on 0800 882 200.

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Page last reviewed: 10/09/2012

Next review due: 10/09/2014

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