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Recovery & Wellness

  • Recovering from Adult Heart Conditions

    Recovery for catheter-based treatment

    Catheter-based treatments for heart conditions, such as angioplasty and catheter ablation, usually last between 30 to 90 minutes. After the treatment, you will most likely be hospitalised for 1 to 2 days so that the doctor can observe your condition and ensure that your heart is functioning normally.

    Upon discharge, you should be able to resume the majority of normal activities. It is recommended that you avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects for a couple of weeks while your body recovers. During this time, you may experience some bruising around the catheter entry point and some soreness around your chest area. However, you should visit your doctor if you experience these symptoms after surgery:

    • Heavy bleeding around catheter entry point
    • Heavy bruising around the chest area
    • Difficulty breathing with little to no exertion
    • Chest pains
    • Fainting
    • Work stress

    Recovery for device implant treatment

    If you were the recipient of a device implant, like a pacemaker or defibrillator, for your heart condition, you will be required to stay in hospital for 1 to 2 days for your doctor to check your heartbeat and ensure that the device is working well.

    While you should be able to resume most normal activities after discharge, you should not drive for at least a week after the surgery. In addition, you should avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects for at least a month after surgery. Your doctor may also advise you not to raise your arms above shoulder height for around a week to avoid disrupting the electrode leads connecting the device to your heart.

    Pacemaker and defibrillator implants these days are safe around most household appliances, but you should keep your distance around machines that emit strong magnetic and radio waves. Here are some useful tips:

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    • Keep your mobile phone at least 15cm from your implant site. While unlikely, it is possible for the device to confuse the mobile phone signal with your heartbeat
    • Inform security personnel of your implant, as it can set off security alarms. Scanning using a handheld detector should be limited to less than 30 seconds over the implant site
    • Make sure you inform your other doctors about your implant. Patients with device implants should not undergo certain procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and radiofrequency ablation
    • Stay around a metre away from power generators, high-voltage transformers and other high power machines. If you work around such equipment, you may wish to arrange for your doctor to assess your workplace to determine if it is safe for you.

  • Keeping Your Heart Healthy

    Even with successful treatment, you may need continuous medical care and make lifestyle changes to maintain your quality of life. Without a healthy lifestyle and proper management of your condition, it is possible for your condition to relapse or for a new heart condition to surface.

    Smoking is one of the main causes of heart disease, so it is highly recommended for smokers to quit when they are diagnosed with a heart problem. Patients should similarly abstain from alcohol and drug abuse.

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    A healthy diet can go a long way to keeping your heart healthy. Avoid foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. Obesity is one of the biggest causes of heart disease, so you should also moderate your calorie intake. Losing weight can reduce the strain on your heart and circulatory system and consequently the risk of heart disease is reduced. Weight loss surgery can be an option for those who require medical help to lose weight.

    Another avenue for staying healthy and losing weight is exercise. While strenuous exercise should be avoided in the period after surgery, you should be able to participate in moderate exercise. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, brisk walking and swimming are very helpful in improving your heart health. They are also relatively low impact, making them particularly beneficial if you are overweight and unable to take part in high impact exercises. However, always check with your doctor before embarking on any exercise regime.

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