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Mind & Mood

The mental side of cardiac rehab

September 01, 2020

If you have experienced a heart attack or undergone a heart procedure, don't neglect your mental health during recovery.

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Recovery from a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty, or heart surgery — what doctors call heart events — can be stressful. Depending on your condition, it may also involve cardiac rehabilitation. This medically supervised program focuses on exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes. While the primary focus is to help you physically, you also need to address your mental and emotional health.

"It's normal to have some anxiety and stress after a heart attack or heart surgery," says Dr. Christopher Celano, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "But how long these feelings linger, and whether they are also associated with symptoms of depression, can affect your rehab recovery success and potentially increase your risk of future problems."

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