British Heart Foundation
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Still not fully recovered

My husband had a heart attack at the end of last October. He had three stents fitted and went to Cardiac Rehab classes. What worries us both is that he doesn't seem to have recovered full strength. I admit he is very bad at doing any exercise. Does anyone else still feel weak after this much time? He has been signed off from hospital and has various other illnesses since, he goes for regular blood tests and blood pressure checks and these all seem fine. Is it just he needs a kick to start him to do some form of exercise?

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I was told that it takes over a year

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That does put my mind at ease a little. Thank you.

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Hey there Bazmack, I have the same timeline. Heart attack in late October, bypass surgery early November.

The exercise, I'm afraid is the key, it builds your system back up. I am nowhere near to where I was before in terms of energy and drive, but, I am healthier than I've been for a long time, if that makes any sense.

Pre heart attack I could work for 12 to 14 hour days, now I cannot do more than nine, I lack both the energy and the concentration. I can however walk up to 12 miles a day, I can garden post this and I can walk in hills for a couple of hours. Yes I'm tired post this exertion, but I can do it and feel stronger and more importantly healthier. I feel breathlessness, but, and it gets better each and every day.

He does need to get up and get moving, walking is great, low impact exercise. Work out a route near you, start with a nice easy 1/2 mile and build it up, maybe a stop en route, coffee, cold drink, just get up and do it.

There are thousands, if not 100's of thousands of us in the same boat, your heart is a muscle. He would have been told this in rehab of the importance of exercising that little beauty.

There are people on here far fitter than I ever was who will happily share hints and tips to getting moving. Hopefully you and your husband can read this and take it as a fresh start in both your lives, grasp it, enjoy life it's not the end it's the beginning.

Take care and do let us know how you get on

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Thank you very much for your reply. It was emphasised that my husband needed to exercise from the start. Unfortunately, he had a very bad reaction to the statins causing him to be hospitalised. Another few admissions to hospital for other complaints has now left him much weaker than he was. After the school holidays we will both restart the local gyms cardiac rehab classes. Our cardiac practitioners have been excellent even visiting him in hospital. I just wanted to know if others were taking time to recover. Thanks again.

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The medication alas has side effects, it would seem trial and error with some experiencing extreme side effects, myself included but not to such an extreme as your husband. My advise would be to read through the side effects of all the meds he is on, if you suspect they are affecting then speak to your GP about switching these

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We have found our local pharmacist is very knowledgeable and knows my husbands history. He takes the time to sit and discuss any problems with his medication. We have been very lucky with the people we have helping us. Just need to get hubby moving.

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Hi Bazmack,

2 Heart Attacks here, almost fwo years ago. One an unstentable blockage, the other Angiospasm.

Just wanted to add my belief that exercise is essential to long term recovery. The heart is a muscle and needs to be as strong as possible to cope with the impact of having had a heart attack.

Through meeting other patients at Cardio Rehab and through listening to my own body, I realised fairly early on that the biggest barrier to exercise is fear. We don't quite trust our hearts anymore !!

My solution was to buy a Fitbit with a heart rate monitor. I started walking at 1,000 steps a day, just up and down the lane near my house. Over the next two years I have increased that gradually until I now walk about 15,000 - 20,000 steps (7-9 miles a day). The heart rate monitor has proved invaluable. It picked up Tachycardia events, which I was able to feed back to my Cardiologist and tells me when my sleep is poor, so that I can get that part of the equation right.

I am a different person today. I hardly ever think about the HA's I had two years ago and have pretty much got my life back to normal. I do have the odd bad day, when I listen to my body telling me I have overdone it, but otherwise I am healthier and happier than I have ever been.

Please encourage your husband to get up and out of the chair. The more he uses that heart, the longer it is likely to last him !!!

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We have been on a walk this morning and now he is looking at Fitbits. He has listened to all the replies received and is going to make an effort. Thank you.

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Great to hear it, good man.

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Delighted to hear that.

My Fitbit is a Blaze if that info helps in any way.

It records my steps, mileage, heart rate, sleep & calories burned. It also prompts me 10 minutes before the end of an hour if I haven't walked at least 250 steps in that hour.

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Are these fitbits dangerously inaccurate?

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Not sure. Looking into various monitors similar. Eldest son is also doing some research for me.

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I am not sure what you mean by dangerously.

In terms of measuring steps / distance, I find mine to be pretty accurate when compared to the measurements on my maps. It does record false steps when I am driving and if I am being quite purist I take mine off when driving long distances.

In terms of recording heart rate, again mine is pretty accurate. The tachycardiac episodes it picked up, were followed up by my Cardioligst with a seven day monitor. That confirmed the issue.

I think the important thing to recognise with a Fitbit is that it's greatest value is in encouraging you to exercise and keep increasing your exercise. The heart monitor facility is a useful extra, which helps to improve your confidence so that you keep pushing yourself to exercise more !!

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I was just interested in the reliability of monitoring your heart rate this way.

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Hi Twobells. I looked at pretty much every HR monitor on the market when I bought mine a while back and here is the lowdown...

Most wrist based HR monitors use optical sensors.. basically light is shone through your veins. Blood absorbs light so the reduction in light that bounces back to the sensor can be converted into a heart rate. The problem with this is that they can be affected by physiology. If you're veins aren't very juicy, or you have excess body fat where the watch is located, to name but two examples, it can affect the signal. It may struggle to maintain a stable signal which you see as your HR rate dropping in and out and the numbers not making sense.

In everyday use the HR is often sensed at quite wide intervals (once/minute), which isn't hugely "realtime" and I find this is when mine can struggle to keep the signal, however when set into an activity mode, such as walking, running, cycling etc, the HR is sensed much more often (I think mine is once/second) and becomes much more useful and accurate.

The other option, which is more accurate than optical sensors, is a chest strap. These are good if you really need to be critical about realtime HR monitoring but as they involve a strap around your chest they can be uncomfortable. To read your HR from the strap you still have to wear a watch style device, or carry a smartphone.

For most, a good optical monitor should be fine. If possible though, try before you buy to see how good the signal is. If it struggles, move it further away from the wrist.

Hope this helps.

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I concur these comments. I go twice, sometimes 3 times a week to Phase 4 post rehab cardio exercise classes - we have about 200 members and 7 sessions per week. It is great to meet and discusss with others, we all exercise at our own pace. I also walk regularly, a simple, 2 mile walk every morning to buy a newspaper but lots of longer walks too. Also a great fan of the Fitbit with HR monitor.i have also changed my diet and concentrate on healthy eating, this keeps my weight optimum which helps too. Take it easy, go at your own pace and build up slowly but them keep up exercising and healthy eating for good- I feel good 4 years after my bypass.

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Recovery is different for us all, exercise is one part of the solution but not the total answer. I am now 12 months on but we know things will continue to be difficult. If there are other underlying health issues healing takes longer.

So if exercise is the answer look at a range of activities, I have a friend who thinks walking is a waste of time but give him a little white ball to chase with a stick for 3 hours and he is a happy man.

So in answer to your question Yes many still feel weak after a year and more - sadly some never return to the levels of fitness.

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Your reply made my hubby laugh. We have been for a short walk this morning but had to keep stopping as his hips were playing up. That is another story but I think he has taken in what everybody has been saying. Now looking for a Fitbit.

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Hi Bazmack, I am only 10 weeks in from my angioplasm but agree with everyone else - exercise is the key. I am fortunate enough to have been loaned a Fitbit by the rehab team at Papworth and must admit, have become addicted to it which really helps motivate me to exercise and improve my diet every day and keep moving every hour!

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Although retired now i was back at work as a baker 12 weeks after a heart attack 7 years ago with 2 stents. I was offered light duties by my employers but i thought go for it, if you cant cope then backpedal a little. I found it a little more effort that before my MI but managed to carry on what is quite a physical job until I retired last October. A lot of recovery is the persons mindset, there will always be in the back of the mind it may happen again so i better take it easy, that is not the best way, try setting achievement goals and move forward towards them.

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I've had various complications post-op and each time I go backwards in terms of energy levels and fitness the only solution is to pick yourself up and start all over again. Just keep on fighting!

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i'm also on the same timeline.. HA last November 5th with 2 stents fitted a couple of days later. I agree with the others about exercise. It's important for a lot of reasons... there's no downside to it.

For heart patients it isn't really an option not to do it. If you don't exercise your heart muscle it will weaken, as with any other muscle, and it's more likely to fail again. Exercise isn't the only component to recovery but it's way up there in terms of importance. Let the meds do their stuff, improve wellbeing, eat healthily and exercise. That's all we can do really.

There are all sorts of exercise but for most all you need to do is plenty of walking. Keep within your limits and only do what you can do, but it's important to keep trying to increase your fitness level.... go a bit farther every week, or walk a bit faster. A couple of mild strength exercise sessions at home with resistance bands (a la rehab classes) every week is also good to do as well as the walking.

When you're out remember to take a drink, the GTN spray and a charged mobile phone, and you're covered for all eventualities.

I also bought a fitness tracker with HR monitor and it's become an important bit of kit. It gives you peace of mind you aren't overdoing it (or tells you you aren't doing enough), and is also a great motivator to get out and do more. Mine is a Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS smartwatch which does way more stuff than I'll ever need. I'm happy with it.

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I found the rehab classes great once I got "into it" and, now they're over, to be honest I really miss the discipline. I miss the camaraderie and the logical approach. And that's the key (for someone like me) - the routine. Since they came to an end, I keep meaning to join a gym but never get round to it so have had to force myself to do some walking every day. My doc says that's sufficient, the NHS nurse says not! I feel "light-headed" now which I didn't before. Not sure if that's due to medication, stopping the regualr exercise, blood pressure issues or what. Blood tests showed up nothing - but, if things don't settle down for about a year after the op, then I'm only halfway through that timescale. I can say I feel I have a lot more energy at times - but that may be down to the fact that I no longer eat rubbish and, more importantly, I stopped smoking after 38 years.

I do feel, however, I'm letting myself down by not joining something - perhaps your husband just needs a bit of reassurance that he's on the right path? I know I appreciated any positive comments at the rehab classes.

It's stating the obvious, perhaps, but this condition does tend to monopolise one's thinking at times and it's often difficult to look at life in any terms other than "one's condition". Getting things into perspective - the mental hurdles are as tangible as the physical ones. Harder to leap, as they can't be 'seen'.

Good luck :-)

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Hi...glad to hear that your hubby is planning on more action! Mine fell into quite a mental and physical slump a while after his bypass, where I just couldn't persuade him out of his armchair...there are many heart patients who suffer from anxiety and/or depression post-cardio 'event'/surgery. He was putting back on all the weight he had lost in hospital - I was really worried about him, and I was having to go to work fulltime, leaving him to his own devices all day - not good. So, in the end, I decided on some drastic action - he knows that I absolutely hate running anywhere, for anything, so I joined a local running club. And I hated every minute of the Couch to 5k horrible running programme (I prefer swimming, walking and cycling!). But I kept going, and he was suitably impressed - to the degree that he joined his local gym (or rather, started attending the one he was already paying for and not using...). After a couple of months, when he'd got into the groove with the gym, I felt that I could at last quietly resign from the running club :). So now I've joined the gym which I also am not a great fan of, but we go together, and next Wednesday, a little over 2 years after his op, we will be celebrating my 'quite a large number' birthday by encouraging each other to the top of Mount Snowdon...it has been a really tough couple of years for both of us, in quite different ways, but now we look back only to see how far we have travelled... Good luck to you both, in your journey together :)

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Thank you. It does affect the other partner and the cardiac rehab team are very good to us both. When the grandchildren return to school we will both go back to the classes. It is too tiring to look after them and attend classes, I don't think our sons appreciate the effect it is having on us both. I was diagnosed with a rare cancer the year before hubbys HA and think the worry caused hubbys HA. It is reassuring to me anyway to be able to "talk' to others in our position.

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That's a great story Seymour2929. Inspiring!

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We're not the other side of Snowdon yet, haha! Think of us both on Wed 6th Sept...should get to the top by about 1pm. Am worried about my husband as he had terrible gout in his knees and ankles after his bypass which completely crippled him for days and still gives him pain now sometimes especially on a downhill so am keeping fingers crossed we can get the steam train down! I have been constantly in awe of the amazing mental strength he has found from somewhere to get through what he has in the last 2 years - I think it will be a hugely emotional moment for both of us when we get to the top (not if...) so I'll pack some tissues too...!☺

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Good luck to you both tomorrow Seymour. There's a few showers forecast (it is Snowdon after all) but it looks like the best day for weather this week.

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Hi Marc...just on our way from Northants up into the Welsh lumpy bits - driving rain for most of the way but now heading into Betws-y-Coed in glorious sunshine 🌞! Current weather report for tomorrow isn't too bad but of course, cannot be relied upon! But worried about husband's ticker being over-taxed but he says that he knows when his heart rate is too high and so slows down/rests - I need to have more faith in him/his surgeon! ! We'll be going up despite the weather unless Hurricane Yr Wyddfa hits... I know that we will both get there, and we are with 'safe hands' as daughter is a qualified and very experienced mountaineer/climber (having had 2 heart ops herself!). Am really hoping that the achievement will show my husband that he is much physically and mentally stronger than he thinks he is, post-op 😊👌. Thanks for thinking of us - hope all is going well for you too 👍👍

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Hi Seymour. I know that part of Wales pretty well as most of my family live up that way now, and that's where we always went on holiday as kids. It's like my second home, and might well be where my next home will be.

Unfortunately I'm having one of the worst days since I left hospital today, and the first time I've nearly taken myself back there, but hey ho. I hope it goes well for you all, i'm sure it will. :-)

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Hi Marc, really sorry to hear you hit a 'blackspot' yesterday - husband had those days too, and some where he asked me to drive him back to hospital - but he was always reassured by staff that he should go in if he feels he needs to...hope you're having a better day today. Well, we both made it to the top - husband admitted today that towards the top he didn't think he would get there and I could see that he was struggling - legs, not heart or mind- the after effects of post-op gout, but when we remember where he was 2 years ago, Snowdon is a fantastic achievement for him. And hopefully an inspiration for others who are just starting their road to recovery, that they will be more than they feel they are today. Thanks for your support and encouraging words, Marc, it all helps us along the road together 👍👍

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Hi Seymour. Well done to you all. It certainly is a fantastic achievement. It's a fair old trek to the top of Snowdon and it goes to show what's possible for heart patients.

I've had a strange few days, I had a lot of pain and my numbers were all over the place the other day (in hindsight I should have gone to A&E), yet yesterday I had virtually no discomfort whatsoever, which is almost unheard of for me, and so far today none either, so all good now, thanks.

Hope you didn't get too wet! :-)

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Hi, Marc...glad to hear your body stuff has settled down again for you...I'm sure the hospital staff would rather cardio patients get their bigger worries checked out - although I can fully understand why you wouldn't want to rush towards an NHS A&E dept! My husband is a keen cyclist, came off his prized possession on some gravel and told me he thought he'd broken a body bit and needed to go to A&E...I replied that as it was 10pm on a Friday night, I'd rather not, thank you...being nurse-like doesn't come naturally to me, so his post-op period including the re admittance was a trial for both of us 😊😊. Recovery seems very similar to the hilly terrain of the Welsh uplands...?? Getting wet...little rain to speak of, but there were a few drops of tears at the top - quite emotional moment standing there with my husband and daughter, both of whom I could have lost to heart disease if it wasn't for the BHF research and fantastic medical staff/surgeons. We are truly blessed.

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Hi Seymour.

Thanks. it does seem to have settled to it's normal regime of daily discomfort. My numbers are back to normal though. The more I think about it, the more I realise I really should have gone to A&E. It sort of feels like a backwards step though but next time I will definitely go.

I can imagine it was a pretty emotional moment stood on the top with your family. I'm so glad you still have them both. Take care.

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