It's possible to lead a full life after having heart surgery or problems like a heart attack.

Cardiac rehabilitation programme

Cardiac rehabilitation, or cardiac rehab, is a programme to help you recover and get back to living your life after a recent heart attack or heart failure. It's an important part of your recovery.

How to access cardiac rehabilitation

A member of the cardiac rehab team may visit you in hospital with information about your condition or the procedure you're having. After you leave hospital, they may visit you at home or call you to check on your progress.

You do not need a referral from your cardiologist. You can also:

Cardiac rehab programmes are available locally, often in weekly sessions that last 6 to 12 weeks. You may be able to choose between group classes, online classes or a home programme.

How cardiac rehabilitation can help

Research has found that people who attend cardiac rehab have a lower risk of having another heart attack and being admitted to hospital. It also had a positive impact on their wellbeing and quality of life.

Your local cardiac rehab service can give you more details about what they offer, but most programmes will cover:

Your cardiac rehab team will tailor the programme to suit your age, fitness level and any other medical issues.

Further information

Self care

Self care is an integral part of daily life, and is all about you taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing with the support of those involved in your care.

Self care includes actions you take for yourself every day so you stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health. It also helps you to prevent illness or accidents and care more effectively for minor ailments and long-term conditions.

People living with long-term conditions can benefit enormously from being supported so they can achieve self care. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, have a better quality of life, and be more active and independent.

Support groups

If you have a heart condition, or if you're caring for someone with a heart condition, you might find it useful to meet other people in your area who are in a similar situation.

There are a number of heart support groups around the UK that organise regular exercise sessions, such as walking groups, as well as other social activities. A GP or specialist can provide you with details about your nearest group.

Further information

Relationships and sex

Coming to terms with a long-term condition such as heart disease can put a strain on you, your family and your friends. It can be difficult to talk to people about your condition, even if they're close to you.

Be open about how you feel and let your family and friends know what they can do to help. But do not feel shy about telling them you need some time to yourself.

Your sex life

If you have coronary heart disease (CHD) or you've recently had heart surgery, you may be concerned about having sex. You'll usually be able to resume sexual activity as soon as you feel well enough.

If you experience sexual problems, these may be caused by your heart condition or even by worrying about it. Sometimes they can be a side effect of your medicine.

A GP, nurse or cardiac rehab nurse should be able to offer you advice and support.

It also helps to talk to your partner and stay open-minded.

Further information

Returning to work

After recovering from heart surgery, you should be able to return to work, but you may need to change the type of work you do. For example, you may not be able to do a job that involves heavy physical exertion.

Your specialist will be able to advise you about when you can return to work and what type of activities you should avoid.

Further information

Financial support

If you're unable to work after having heart surgery, you may be entitled to financial support, such as:

If you're caring for someone who has heart disease, you may also be entitled to financial support.

find out if you're eligible, check the benefits and financial support you can get on the GOV.UK website. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice office.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019
Next review due: 1 August 2019