If you’ve recently had a heart attack, following your doctor’s recommendations is important to your recovery.

Before you leave the hospital, you and your family will learn about the follow-up care necessary to help you get back to living a healthy life.

Learn more about the conditions treated at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

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Heart Attack Recovery


Many people go on to resume their normal activities after a heart attack. However, you will have to make some changes in your lifestyle to prevent another heart attack. Your recovery process will include:

In-hospital care – Following a heart attack, you’ll stay in the hospital for at least a few days. You may start out in an intensive care unit before moving to a step-down cardiac unit. Your doctors will monitor your heart and vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, etc.) and teach you about self-care and lifestyle changes you’ll need to make.

Follow-up care may include blood tests to determine how damaged your heart is and whether you’re at risk for complications or future heart attacks.

Medicine – Your doctor may prescribe a variety of medicines to help you recover and stay healthy. You’ll begin taking them while you’re still in the hospital and continue to take them after you go home. The goal of most of these medicines is to help you feel better, heal your heart, and prevent future attacks.

Rehabilitation – Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation to strengthen your heart and improve your overall health. The American Heart Association reports that longer, more intense cardiac rehab is linked to better health outcomes. Ask your doctor what rehab plan is right for you.

Part of your rehabilitation is to get you moving as soon as your doctor allows. Your care team will help you get up and about while you’re still in the hospital, which is important for improving and maintaining blood flow.

Lifestyle changes – It’s likely that your doctor will prescribe a variety of lifestyle changes to help your heart heal and prevent another heart attack. You should make these changes permanent in order to live a healthy life after a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, lifestyle changes may include:

  • Becoming more active
  • Reducing stress
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Watching your cholesterol levels
  • Avoiding tobacco and other drugs
  • Taking prescribed medicines and managing other health conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes

Your Heart Attack Care Team

At the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, our team of doctors will coordinate the best possible care for you following a heart attack. This team approach is essential for providing you with personalized, expert care. You should continue to see members of your care team for check-ups following a hospitalization.

Most importantly, learn the warning signs of a heart attack and teach them to your loved ones so that you can get immediate medical care if you experience another heart attack.

For more information, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or make an appointment at a location near you.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.