Lifestyle Changes to Make After a Heart Attack

11/06/2019 | 2 min. read

Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Dr. Stephen Sinatra

One of the most common questions I get from people is why they're still tired after a heart attack that happened six months ago. It's a great question. Fatigue is the number one symptom after a heart attack, because the heart is devoting a lot of its energy to healing. As it builds scar tissue, the energy left for physical exertion is diminished at first but does recover gradually over time.

The heart needs a full three months to truly heal after a heart attack, filling in and strengthening scar tissue in the area where the cells died—and for some people it can take a lot longer.

I can share several thoughts about recovering after a heart attack that I have learned from my patients and from supervising cardiac rehabilitation at my own hospital.

For Energy Recovery After a Heart Attack

  • Understand that life will be different for a time. One of the hardest things for many of my patients to appreciate after a heart attack was that there’s a scar area that’s healing in their heart. So often they don’t understand why simple activities that never used to tire them are exhausting them. So be patient with yourself.
  • Keep up with your rehab program, including exercise and diet. If there is a hospital near you that offers a cardiac rehabilitation program, ask your M.D. to give you a referral so that your insurance company will cover your attendance. You will need a low-level stress test so the cardiologist can write your exercise prescription, and the staff there will teach you how to exercise safely after a heart attack and progress your level of exercise each week under close supervision. (Plus, you will make great friends with others going through recovery just like you!)
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet regimen. I recommend following the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet. I also recommend simple walking, with your doctor’s permission of course. Even if you follow the PAMM diet to the letter, I still have my own patients take targeted nutritional supplements to help their hearts heal and stay strong long after a heart attack.
  • Fortify your heart with a nutrient combination I call the "Awesome Foursome": CoQ10 100–300 mg daily, magnesium 400–800 mg daily, broad-spectrum carnitine 1–2 g daily in divided doses, and D-ribose 5 g twice daily. These nutrients will help to ensure that the damaged tissue in the heart has maximum ability to recover after a heart attack—which will increase your overall energy.
  • Follow up with your doctor regularly—and express any concerns you have, including fatigue. Also remember that fatigue can be a symptom of depression, so be sure to mention it to your physician so he or she can evaluate the cause.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Meet Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy.

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