Do I Need A More Sedentary Job After A Heart Attack?

Question: Should I request a more sedentary job after a heart attack?

Answer: I ran a coronary care unit for many years in the early phase of my career, and dealt mostly with people who had had heart attacks. A really common question I'd get asked is, "Now that I've had a heart attack, shouldn't I just take it easy?" The answer actually is the opposite. People that take it easy after a heart attack have a greater risk of having recurrent coronary events because, of course, the right kind of exercise and diet and medications are -- reduce the risk of a second heart attack or even death after one has had the first heart attack.

The really critical issue here is finding the activities in the job and in leisure time that are right for you, based on the exact circumstances of your heart. So for example, if you've had a very small heart attack, the doctors have used a stent or a bypass surgery to give you good blood flow to your heart, there's absolutely no reason to reduce at all what you do after a brief period of convalescence or working your way back up to speed. If you've had a big heart attack and you have heart failure, it's still very important to be active, but one might want to avoid certain particularly strenuous activities and particular kinds of job. So the general answer is after a heart attack, don't become less active, become more active, but do it in consultation with your doctor.

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