Portuguese Italian Spanish English French German

Web Site

Return Home

  • Echocardiography

  • Heart and mind: prescription

  • Diet and heart disease

  • Risk factors for heart attack: what are your personal risk factors?

  • How to recognize angina and heart attack: what is angina pectoris ? angina’s causes and how to recognize


    After you return home you may be invited to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation programme. The aim of the programme is to:

    Assist you to achieve optimal psychological and social wellbeing through education and support for yourself and your family

    Provide an exercise and educational programme to encourage cardiovascular fitness

    Encourage you to adopt a lifestyle that limits the progression of atherosclerosis and minimises the risk of further cardiac events maximise physical, psychological and social recovery so that you can achieve a lifestyle that is as productive and personally satisfying as possible.


    A walking programme is encouraged during rehabilitation. It is the simplest and most convenient exercise, and is a reliable method of improving your physical fitness.

    Your walking distance and speed will be specified by the rehabilitation staff or by your doctor.

    Rate of progress is very much an individual matter.

    Conditions for Walking during Your Recovery Period

    Some of these conditions have been mentioned earlier but they are repeated here to emphasise their importance.

    The ground should be relatively flat and level. Walking uphill greatly increases the work of the heart. If you cannot avoid climbing hills you should make sure you slow down. The same applies to walking into a head wind.

    Temperature extremes also increase the work of the heart. Try to time your walk so that you do not walk in the coldest part of the day in winter, or in the heat of the day in summer.

    Digestion makes additional demands on the heart. You should avoid vigorous exercise for an hour before and 2 hours after a meal.

    The heart often takes a few minutes to adjust to exercise. Always do some gentle warm-up exercises before you walk, or start your walk slowly.

    How Far Should You Walk?

    The walking chart on page 52 is offered as a weekly guide. The amount of time spent walking depends on a number of factors, including your stage of recovery, age and previous physical fitness.

    Check your distance and fitness category with your doctor before commencing this programme.

    If you are unsure how much you should do, start with a shorter distance. The overall aim is to gradually increase your walking distance and to reduce the time it takes to walk this.

    Do not be discouraged by periods of slower progress when it may seem you are not improving. This is common and is almost always temporary. If you experience this kind of set-back it may be best to drop back a stage until the walking becomes comfortable again.

    Use the chart on page 52 to determine the amount of time you should spend walking while recovering from a heart attack. When you have fully recovered, walking should be maintained at a rhythmic, even pace for at least 30 minutes and should be performed at least 3 to 4 times per week.


    Safe limits of exercise are usually set by your body, which signals that you have exercised enough by one or more of the following:

    Discomfort or pain in the chest or arms

    Shortness of breath (panting and puffing)

    Fatigue (feelings of exhaustion, tired legs)

    Pain in the calves

    Dizziness or nausea.

    These symptoms do not necessarily mean anything is wrong with your heart, merely that it has worked hard enough and it may be necessary to reduce the amount of exercise you are trying to do. You will gain no further benefits by pushing beyond these 'barriers'.

    Report .my of the symptoms listed on the previous page to your doctor at your next visit.


    There is one type of exertion which is not beneficial. This is exercise which involves 'straining'. Included in this category are:

    Very heavy lifting and carrying

    Pushing and pulling heavy objects, for example a car or refrigerator

    Opening a stuck window.     

    If you have high blood pressure or angina it may be best to avoid these exercises.


    Almost all people who recover from a heart attack are able to walk briskly, play golf, resume sex and engage in similar activities without trouble.

    Now that you are on the way to recovery from this heart attack, take steps to reduce your chances of further trouble by modifying your lifestyle.


    Many people are given an exercise stress test following their heart attack.

    Your doctor may order this while you are an inpatient or some weeks after your heart attack.

    This test records the heart beat during rest, exercise and immediate post exercise.

    This simple procedure takes approximately 1 hour and is supervised by a doctor. The exercise may be achieved by riding a stationary bike or walking briskly on a treadmill.

    During the test you are connected to an electrocardiograph machine so that changes in your heart are recorded. An electrocardiograph machine records the electrical impulses travelling through the heart muscle and can detect lack of blood supply to parts of the heart muscle.

    You will be asked to fast for 4 hours before having the test.

    You may need to cease some of your medications for 24 to 48 hours before this test. Your doctor will tell you if this is necessary.

    Remember to wear comfortable clothes and sandshoes.


    Cardio & Blood


  • Electrocardiography: how is an ecg taken? what information does the doctor get from the ecg?

  • Heart and mind: the cost

  • After heart attack: exercising for future fitness

  • Risk factors for heart attack: psycho-social stress and risk personality

  • How to recognize angina and heart attack: myocardial infarction