Before you start the rehabilitation programme you will have an initial assessment to find out how much exercise you can safely do. A physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist can then carefully work out a programme of exercises for you, tailoring the programme to your individual needs. At the beginning of each session you will do warm-up exercises which involve stretching your muscles. All the exercises will be carefully explained to you.
The exercises will be ‘aerobic’ (exercises that help to improve your heart and circulation). You will be encouraged to increase your exercise gradually over the weeks of the rehabilitation programme. It is very important that you work within your limits and follow the advice given to you. At the end of each exercise session you will do ‘cool-down’ exercises to stretch out your muscles and prevent them from aching the next day. It is normal to feel anxious about exercise after a heart attack.
However, attending rehabilitation classes can help give you the confidence to become active again. Relaxation You will be able to practice different relaxation techniques and find one that suits you. You will also find out how important relaxation is for people who have had a heart problem. If possible, encourage your partner or a family member or friend to go along with you. This will help lessen their fears as well and give them the chance to ask any questions.
This may involve structured but informal sessions within your group. You may cover one or more topics in each session and will have the opportunity to ask any questions.
Going back to work. People who have had an uncomplicated heart attack will usually be able to return to work. You can talk to a member of the cardiac rehabilitation team about the type of work you do. They will help to assess how easily you might take up your job again and when you should return to work. Attending cardiac rehabilitation classes gives you the opportunity to ask questions and talk about any worries you may still have.