At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Long Does It Take for Full Heart Attack Recovery?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

While it is possible to make a full heart attack recovery, most people who have a heart attack never make a full recovery and must adapt their lifestyles to prevent future heart attacks or even death. After three to five days in the hospital, a patient is likely to be discharged unless he or she has undergone a surgery, in which case the hospital stay may be longer. Once at home, the heart attack sufferer will need to take part in a heart attack recovery plan that will most likely involve medications and exercise. People may take these medications for a set period of time, or for the rest of their lives.

Just about all people who suffer heart attacks must change daily habits during heart attack recovery. Cardiac rehabilitation programs help people develop new diets, exercise routines, and healthy daily habits that will help prevent future heart attacks and help the heart heal from the most recent one. The heart can incur scar tissue as a result of the heart attack, and this scar tissue is sometimes permanent, which means the heart is irrevocably damaged. Other steps will need to be taken to ensure heart attack recovery and to encourage healthy habits that will lower heart rate and prevent blood clots.

A human heart.
A human heart.

Some heart attack sufferers make a full recovery within weeks or months of the heart attack, while others may need to rest for much longer periods of time and feel the after-effects of the heart attack for months or even years. Shortness of breath, chest pains, and other common symptoms may be felt during the heart attack recovery period, and the medications are often meant to help prevent such symptoms and to help the heart heal more quickly. The recovery time will depend on several factors, including the overall health of the heart attack sufferer and the changes he or she makes after the heart attack occurs.

The anatomy of a heart attack. People who have survived a heart attack often need cardiac rehab.
The anatomy of a heart attack. People who have survived a heart attack often need cardiac rehab.

In some cases, a heart attack sufferer may need to undergo surgery to repair damage to the heart. This is a more serious condition, and there is a substantial risk of long-term effects as well as a risk of death. A person recovering from a heart attack that required surgery may never make a full recovery, and those who do will undergo a very long heart attack recovery period that can last months or years; lasting effects are likely in just about all heart attack sufferers.

Discussion Comments


On the evening of March 11 I suffered a vtach storm. My heartbeat was racing and unstable. I called 911 and the paramedics got me stabilized, the icd pacemaker delivered 3 shocks to reset my heart beat, and after getting to the hospital it delivered another 3.

I have been off work on rehab, which took some time. Gradually, I increased my daily walking distance so that I average about 7500 steps per day. On the weekends I bike 18 km.

I'm still feeling off at times as a reminder of what happened, plus from time to time some depression is felt. The biggest challenge has been in regaining my confidence, but little by little I have been getting better. I'm still not there. Every day is a good day.


Thank you for posting. This has helped me a lot. I am a it depressed myself and feel as if I have given up everything. I had to quit smoking and eating good tasting food, etc. It has almost been a month and now I'm hoping things go better soon. Thanks


@turquoise-- I'm going through the same thing as your dad. I think the emotional and psychological recovery from a heart attack takes longer than the physical recovery.

I've been having a lot of anxiety post my heart attack. When I experience chest pain, arm pain or breathlessness, I can't help but think that it's another heart attack. I'm actually on anti-anxiety medications now because of this fear.

I also had to quit smoking and make some major lifestyle changes and I think all of this is bringing on a mild depression.


My dad had a mild heart attack two months ago. He's doing better but sometimes he has chest pain and he freaks out because he thinks he's having another heart attack.


I had a heart attack last year and my recovery took months.

I did feel considerably better after a week at home than I did at the hospital. But my heart was very tired for a long time and it took months for me to be as active as I used to be.

After the heart attack, it was difficult to move around without getting exhausted. The first month, I rested most of the time at home. Even a short walk or a trip to get groceries would tire me out. I didn't want to push myself, so I preferred to stay home and rest.

After the first month though, things got better and I could walk more and actually run out for some errands without tiring out right away.

I don't know if it's the same for everyone, I'm sure the intensity of the attack and possible complications also affect recovery from a heart attack.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A human heart.
      By: zurbagan
      A human heart.
    • The anatomy of a heart attack. People who have survived a heart attack often need cardiac rehab.
      By: Alila
      The anatomy of a heart attack. People who have survived a heart attack often need cardiac rehab.
    • Some patients recover within weeks of a heart attack.
      By: mangostock
      Some patients recover within weeks of a heart attack.