Heart attack

Leisure, travel and hobbies after a heart attack

How a heart attack affects people's quality of life may be influenced to a greater or less extent by how severe their heart attack was, how much of the heart has been damaged, what treatments or medications have been given and how effective they are.

Long term, many people said they could still do the things they had enjoyed before, such as gardening, playing golf or football, swimming, walking, dancing, cycling or voluntary work. One man who learnt to play golf and played for five years after his heart attack, said that physically his heart attack hadn't significant affected what he could do.

Another man, whose hobby was driving steam locomotives, for which he needed a HGV licence, had to pass various exercise tests in order to get his HGV licence agreed, so that he could continue with his hobby. A 70-year-old man, who had been very fit and had been very active windsurfing, walking and rock climbing before his heart attack, said he could still enjoy most of his previous activities. One 62-year-old woman said she no longer felt confident doing the things she used to enjoy and she thought it had made her behave as though she was old.

Some people had angina, or breathlessness, or they tired more easily, which affected what they could do, or they did what they had done before, but just at a slower pace. One man who had, had bypass surgery a month after having a heart attack said that he didn't lift heavy loads and if he felt tired, he would rest and then carry on. Another explained that now he got breathless walking up a hill, and it could bring on an angina attack. Another man found it frustrating that he got what seemed to be angina attacks when he was looking forward to doing something.

For some people, the heart attack had affected what they could do. One man who developed heart failure after a severe heart attack, described feeling tired easily which affected his daily life. A man, who was 70 when he had his heart attack, had reduced many of his commitments on social committees that he had been active on.

Some people's heart attack led them to make really positive changes in their lives. Some took up new sporting or other activities, things they would not have attempted to do before. Others started adult education classes, and attended computer courses. One man said that attending adult education classes gave him something to do, and helped to take his mind off his condition when he couldn't work for a year while waiting for bypass surgery.

One 37-year-old woman, who had occasional angina pains, started cycling, walking and mountain climbing with her family. A 42-year-old man jogged and walked the Tower of London ten kilometres race for charity, three years after his heart attack. Another man walked the Great Wall of China for charity, two years after his second heart attack.

Most people could go on holiday and fly after they had a heart attack, or had heart surgery. A few chose to only go to places where they felt there would be good medical facilities, or they checked that the hotel was not situated on a steep hill. One man explained that a holiday with his wife in Spain had been another stepping stone towards his recovery. One woman, who had a heart attack eight months ago, was not yet confident enough to travel far from her local hospital. A man who had his heart attack ten years ago and had no complications since, talked about the holidays he went on and the snorkelling he did.

Most said, that after searching around, they could get travel insurance.

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The British Heart Foundation has compiled a list of sympathetic insurance companies that can help people who have a heart condition see their website for more details.

Last reviewed June 2017.

Last updated June 2017.


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