It's possible to lead a normal life after having heart surgery or problems like a heart attack.
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're having.
This care will usually continue after you've left hospital. For the first few weeks after your surgery, a member of the cardiac rehabilitation team may visit you at home or call you to check on your progress.
Cardiac rehabilitation programmes can vary widely throughout the country, but most will cover the following basic areas:
- relaxation and emotional support
Once you've completed your rehabilitation programme, it's important to exercise regularly and lead a healthy lifestyle. This will help protect your heart and reduce the risk of further heart-related problems.
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 so you stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health. It also helps you to 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 can achieve 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.
If you have a heart condition, or if you're 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. A GP or specialist can provide you with details about your nearest group.
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 to people about your condition, even if they're 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 you need some time to yourself.
Your sex life
If you have coronary heart disease (CHD) or you've recently had heart surgery, you may be concerned about having sex. You'll usually be able to resume sexual activity as soon as you feel well enough.
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.
- British Heart Foundation: sex and heart conditions
Returning to work
After recovering from heart surgery, you should be able to return to work, but you may need 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.
- British Heart Foundation: returning to work
If you're unable to work after having heart surgery, you may be entitled to financial support, such as:
If you're caring for someone who has heart disease, you may also be entitled to financial support.
To find out if you're entitled to financial support, you can contact your local Social Security department. To request a claim form, contact the Disability Service Centre.
Page last reviewed: 10 March 2020
Next review due: 10 March 2023