What is a heart attack?
A heart attack is a serious event where the blood supply to the heart is significantly reduced or entirely cut off. This can cause the heart tissue to become damaged or die, leading to a weakness in the ability to pump oxygen around the body.
What are the common difficulties experienced after heart attacks?
Depending on the severity of a heart attack a variety of difficulties may be experienced afterwards.
These may include:
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
- Depression or low mood
- Low motivation
- Reduced mental function including memory and concentration
- Physical difficulties if the heart attack was severe, including reduced mobility and strength.
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help overcome common difficulties associated with a heart attack, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can an occupational therapist help following a heart attack?
An occupational therapist will work with clients in a variety of ways following a heart attack tailoring advice and support to the individual difficulties they might be experiencing. Cardiac rehabilitation can consist of both physical and physiological support including:
- Relaxation techniques - anxiety can play a significant part in the rehabilitation journey following a heart attack and it is important that the effects are minimised to ensure that it does not become a barrier to getting back to normality
- Energy conservation and fatigue management - tiredness is a common symptom following a heart attack and although rest is important, activity is also required to facilitate a return to health. An occupational therapist can teach energy conservation and fatigue management techniques to be implemented throughout the day, to help clients achieve their goals.
- Vocational support to facilitate a return to employment or voluntary roles. This can involve advice to the client and employer, or suggested role or environmental changes.
- Home adaptations or equipment - if there are physical restrictions following a severe heart attack an occupational therapist will be able to advise on what can done to maximise independence at home, with activities such as accessing the bath or shower, or using the stairs for example.