What Kind Of Work Should I Avoid After A Heart Attack?

Question: What kind of work should I avoid after a heart attack?

Answer: The type of work that one should avoid after a heart attack includes excessive levels of physical exertion. And there are metrics that physicians and health care providers and cardiac rehabilitation programs will establish. And these have been established over the years to help people understand how much stress and strain on the heart is incurred by certain types of exercise, such as weight lifting or cross country skiing or physical exertion that would require lifting or moving heavy objects.

Typically, in the early weeks after a heart attack, we recommend that a person not lift or move more than ten or twenty pounds. The reason for that is the type of exercise that is incurred with lifting or moving heavy objects is more what we'd called previously isometric exercise. And with that, there is a sudden rise in blood pressure, a sudden rise in heart rate, and as a result, the heart requires more oxygen to meet the needs of a person who is performing physical exertion.

We'd prefer walking with a graded increase in the amount of walking that a person does from week to week. That is the ideal form of exercise for a heart that is recovering from a heart attack. Aerobic activities may also include swimming, stretching, light jogging -- but not initially after a heart attack, but perhaps four to six weeks. And we also recommend that individuals avoid exertion in extremes of temperature. That could be hot climates or very cold climates, which we know increase the demands on a heart that is trying to recover.

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