Your healthcare team
After a heart attack or diagnosis of unstable angina, you’ll have various people supporting you back to health in different ways. Getting the most from these appointments will mean you feel better faster.
The hospital will inform your GP about your tests, treatment and medication. If all goes well in the weeks after your cardiac event, your GP surgery will take over your care once you’ve completed cardiac rehab. If you’re on optimal medication and symptom-free, your GP may be happy to review your medications every year and see you if there are any problems or concerns.
Get the best: Talk to your GP if you’re worried about medication side-effects, feel depressed or want support to stop smoking. And don’t be embarrassed about discussing sexual concerns.
Your consultant is the heart specialist with detailed knowledge of your condition. You’ll see them when you’re in hospital, then may see them again in the months after your heart attack for an assessment. At this point, if all is well, your care and treatment will normally be passed back to your GP. But your GP is able to request a referral to the hospital at any time if they feel further assessments or tests are needed.
Get the best: Write down any questions you have about your ongoing treatment or anything you’ve noticed since your heart attack, even if you’re not sure whether it’s relevant. Always be aware of the start and stop dates of your medication and ensure that you take them as directed by your healthcare professional.
Your rehab nurses
Your cardiac rehabilitation nurses are there to help you recover physically from your heart attack, and to help you make the all-important lifestyle changes to lower your risk of another cardiac event. They will also support you with any questions that you may have about your medication. You’ll see them when you’re in hospital and then when you attend the Cardiac Rehab programme, which usually start two to four weeks after discharge. 1
Your rehab nurse will advise you on what you can do in the first six weeks following your heart attack. They will also discuss risk factors and give advice for changing your lifestyle.There are several types of class available so they’ll make sure you’re booked into the most appropriate one.
Get the best: Go to your appointments. If you find it difficult, for health or logistical reasons, speak to the team about other ways to benefit – they may be able to give you exercises to do at home. Before classes, prepare by completing any paperwork or health questionnaires you’ve been sent. Bring a list of your medication and any questions you have. Wear lightweight clothing and training shoes for exercise, and make sure you’ve had something to eat and drink before you attend the class.
‘After I left hospital, the Cardiac Rehab course was great. I learned so much. The best advice the nurses gave me was to walk as much as I could, which was an easy thing for me to start doing immediately, even though I was unfit. I’ve built up to 40-mile bike rides, I’ve joined a gym, I go ballroom dancing and I’m still walking a lot. A year on, I feel like a new man.’Richard Williams , 64, from Suffolk, had a heart attack in 2010.
FIND OUT MORE:
Is it an emergency? Knowing when to dial 999 can help put your mind at rest.
1https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronary-heart-disease/recovery/, Accessed September 2018
2Name has been changed.