After your cardiac event, many factors will determine how soon you return to work. These include the type of job you do, the hours you work, your physical and psychological recovery. The ‘right’ time to return to work is very individual and you should be honest with yourself and your employers about how you are recovering.
If you have had an angioplasty and no other cardiac event, you can usually return to work after a few days and to heavier jobs after about a week.
Following any other cardiac event, most people need a few weeks off work to help them to recover. This can range from six weeks(occasionally earlier than this) to many months, depending on the many factors outlined above.
If your job involves heavy lifting, following a cardiac event, particularly surgery, you will usually need to wait at least 3 months before you resume these duties.
It is advisable to discuss your return to work with your employer well in advance. This will not only help you to prepare but will help your employer to plan for your return and provide any support necessary. As with everything else it is advisable to pace yourself where possible. One example is to return to work for a couple of days a week at first, or to work shorter days for the first couple of weeks. You will obviously have to negotiate this with your employer.
If you would like general advice about money matters while you are off work, you can contact the social services help desk on 01452 426868 or your local social services office for more information.
Resuming your sex life
Sex is an important part of life for many people. There is no reason why it should
not continue to be so after a cardiac event. During sexual intercourse your heart rate and blood pressure rise, as they do with any other form of exercise. The British heart Foundation suggest that you are usually fit enough to have sex if you can walk about 300 yards on the level comfortably, or climb two flights of stairs briskly without getting chest pain or becoming breathless.
Having a cardiac event can be a very stressful event for you and your partner.
Resuming sexual activity may be the last thing on your mind or it may be very important for you. It is natural to have concerns and it is important for you and your partner to discuss your feelings and to share any worries you may have.
Approach your return to sexual activity the same as with any other exercise and pace yourself. You may wish to regain your confidence and closeness by kissing and cuddling, and progress from there when you feel ready. Some points you may want to consider when resuming sexual activity:
- Make sure you feel relaxed beforehand but not too tired
- Familiar surroundings may help you to feel more relaxed
- Make sure your bedroom is not much colder than the rest of the house
- Avoid sexual activity immediately after a heavy meal or after drinking more than
a couple of units of alcohol.
Impotence (Erectile Dysfunction)
Impotence is a very common problem but very few men talk openly about it.
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction as it is often called, is more common in people who have heart disease or diabetes. It is also more common as you get older and can be a side effect of some medications. Stress can also cause impotence. If impotence is a problem for you, please discuss this with your doctor or a member of the cardiac rehabilitation team, who will be able to give you more information and refer you to a specialist.
Going on holiday
There is no reason why you should not enjoy a holiday after a cardiac event.Remember to pace yourself. You may gain confidence to tackle longer journeys by having a short break first.
Planning is the key to a successful holiday. Plan your journey to allow for rest breaks and plenty of time to reach your destination. You may consider stopping overnight to break up a long journey. Ensure you have enough medication to last the whole holiday. It may be useful to keep a written list of what medication you are taking – you should be able to get a printed list from your pharmacist. It may help to write a list of all the things you need to do or pack for your holiday so that there are no last minute hitches.
If you have a holiday booked please discuss this with the cardiac rehabilitation nurse who can advise you further.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t fly after a cardiac event. If you are worried about whether you are fit to fly or not please speak to your GP or a member of your cardiac rehabilitation team, who can advise you.
It can be difficult to get reasonably priced holiday insurance following a cardiac event. It is possible but you may need to shop around extensively. The British Heart Foundation Website provides some information about holiday insurance which you may find useful. (www.bhf.org.uk) You can also contact the British Heart Foundation on: 08450 70 80 70 (local rate).