First steps for recovery

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Set goals and priorities for your health

Work with health professionals to set goals and priorities for making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight or eating healthier foods.


  • you may be more successful if you focus on one goal at a time
  • your doctor, cardiologist or cardiac rehabilitation team member can help you set priorities
  • don’t give up.

When you first get home

For the first few weeks, it may good to have someone close by to support and help you.

If you live alone, someone may need to stay with you during this time, depending on how serious your health condition is. If you don’t have family or friends who can be with you, you can get help from a home care agency.

If you need extra community services, such as Meals on Wheels, ask your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation team for information. 

Find support services to help your recovery.

The steps to cardiac recovery

There are six steps to recovering from a heart attack. You need to know what happened, and the things you need to do to minimise the chance of having another one. 

Watch the six videos to help you as you recover. 

Starting a routine

You will need lots of rest when you first get home, but try to get back into a normal routine as soon as possible, including:  

  • get up at a normal time  
  • have a bath or shower if possible 
  • get dressed for the day – don’t stay in your sleeping clothes during the day
  • rest at mid-morning, mid-afternoon and after any physical activity.

What you can do

To start with, you should be able to:

  • do light work around the house
  • go to places, such as a theatre, restaurant or church
  • visit friends
  • travel in a car but not drive a car until your doctor has given you approval to do so
  • climb stairs slowly.

You may feel weak at first, but this isn’t usually serious. It is normally because you didn’t use your muscles very much when in hospital.

Discover ways you can get back to normal.

Take your medicines

Talk with your doctor about medicines. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to understand the benefits, how and when to take your medication, and what the side effects might be. 

Take your medicines exactly as directed. Try not to miss a dose. Don’t stop taking them just because you feel better.

Read more about taking your medicines.

See your doctor regularly

See your doctor as soon as you can after leaving hospital. You will manage your health better with regular check-ups.

Take your medicines list or discharge information, and any test results. These tell your doctor about your medicines and doses. Your doctor may already have this information from the hospital. 

Care for your wounds

If you had surgery or a procedure, you need to look after your wounds so that they heal well. Follow the doctor’s or hospital's instructions. See your doctor if you notice signs of infection (e.g. increased soreness, oozing, bleeding, a bad smell or a high temperature). 

To help your wounds heal:

Keep up your cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation will help you to get back on track. 

It includes important information, social support and a physical activity program. It will also help you to make lifestyle changes and reduce your risk of more heart problems.

Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation programs.

Find a cardiac rehabilitation centre near you.

Recovery action plans

Having a plan can make all the difference. Select one of these action plans and make a start: