Heart attack: this is how aftercare works

Heart attack: this is how aftercare works

Around 300,000 people suffer a heart attack in Germany every year, and only just under two-thirds survive the first four weeks afterwards. But even when the acute danger has passed, the fear remains before how to proceed. Quite justified – about a third of the survivors will suffer another heart attack. Worries about physical impairments, the question of how everyday life will change at work and in the family, the fear of suffering another heart attack and succumbing to it the next time – the initial relief at having survived it quickly gives way to the fear of the Future. However, heart attack patients can influence many things themselves, provided they are willing to adapt their lifestyle to the new situation – with professional help and support from their family.

After a heart attack: Initial treatment in hospital

The first aftercare measures have already taken effect in the acute clinic. First, the life-threatening situation is brought under control, and the patient is cared for in the intensive care unit for the first few days. To prevent complications, early mobilization is sought. Depending on the severity of the heart attack, the patient is already challenged on the 1st or 2nd day. Initially, he will help with personal hygiene and carry out light exercises, which are gradually increasing. After one to two weeks, he should be able to walk short distances or climb stairs again. The extent and speed of the mobilization are individually tailored to the heart attack patient by the specialists.

After the time in the hospital, a three-week stay in an inpatient rehabilitation facility (follow-up treatment = AHB) ideally follows. The application for this is best made during the hospital stay. The AHB serves to increase physical performance, help cope with the disease, inform those affected about the causes, risk factors and consequences of their disease, and show them ways to influence these factors positively.


Help with the transition.

To use this time optimally, it is essential to accurately diagnose the current condition at the beginning and find the optimal medication dosage. Movement and relaxation training, nutrition seminars and psychosocial counselling can only be started once the heart patient has stabilized. A staff of suitably trained doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, psychologists and social workers is available.

These ensure that the heart attack patient makes optimal use of the time during rehabilitation and is prepared for life afterwards. Sufficient space is also given for work, retraining, family, and the mediation of cardiac sports or self-help groups. For patients who do not want to spend this time without their families, there are also outpatient rehabilitation options in so-called day clinics.

Heart attack: outpatient follow-up care

After the heart attack victim is back home, the real work begins. Only if the initiated measures are continued permanently can they unfold their positive effect and reduce the risk of another heart attack. Studies have shown that the practice often looks different – after just a few weeks, many patients have fallen back into old behaviour patterns.

They did not take their medication regularly, smoked again, ate unhealthily and irregularly as before, had stress at work and spent their evenings in front of the television instead of taking a walk. No wonder the scales started to show more pounds, blood pressure shot up again, and cholesterol levels climbed to dangerous levels. It is, therefore, not surprising that a number of those affected found themselves in the hospital with a second or third heart attack.


Personal responsibility is necessary.

To avoid another heart attack, personal responsibility and self-discipline are required. Stepping down and recognizing limits, reducing stress, being patient and careful with oneself and consistently changing one’s lifestyle are vital prerequisites for those affected.

Regular visits to the family doctor, first every six months and then annually, should be just as natural as regular exercise. Endurance sports such as:

  • fast walking
  • slow running
  • To go biking
  • Hike
  • cross country skiing

Individually tailored and controlled training under medical and physiotherapeutic supervision is beneficial. “Coronary sports groups” are used for this purpose, enabling contact with other affected people. Self-help groups for those affected and their relatives provide additional support and encouragement, primarily through exchanging experiences.

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