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Discharge Activity Guidelines for Cardiac Patients

What to do if you experience angina (chest pressure/discomfort):

  • STOP what you are doing and rest or sit down.
  • Put one nitroglycerin tablet under your tongue and wait 5 minutes.
  • If the discomfort is not completely gone, take a 2nd nitroglycerin tablet and wait 5 additional minutes.
  • If the discomfort is not completely gone after two tablets, take a 3rd (and final) nitroglycerin tablet and wait five more minutes.
  • If, after 15 minutes and three nitroglycerin tablets, the discomfort remains, call 911 immediately to be transported to the nearest hospital. Do not delay medical treatment by waiting to see if the discomfort will go away on its own!

Discharge Activity Guidelines for Cardiac Patients>
These guidelines should be followed for the next 1-6 weeks after discharge.
If you have any questions regarding these guidelines, discuss them with your doctor before going home.

Examples of Activities That Are Allowed Guideline to Follow
Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Consider enrollment in this program. For more information, or to schedule an evaluation (if one has not been scheduled prior to your discharge): (216) 778-1221
Lifting Limit to less than 25 pounds.
Stair Climbing You may gradually resume climbing the stairs at home. Recommendation: Limit the number of trips up and down. Go slowly at first.
Social Activities You may gradually resume going to restaurants, church and social events as soon as you feel ready.
Walking or Stationary Bicycling Should be done 7 days per week.
Heart Rate: Should NOT go up more than 20 beats per minute over your resting heart rate.
Walking Goal: Gradually work up to a continuous 30 minute walk (approximately 1 mile) over the next 2-4 weeks.
Biking Goal: Gradually work up to a continuous 30 minute workout without tension, over the next 2-4 weeks. Once up to 30 minutes, gradually add tension.
Household/Yard Duties That Are Allowed Meal Preparation Washing Dishes Light Dusting and Straightening Up Light Loads of Laundry Light Gardening Hobbies such as crafts, woodworking, modeling.
Sexual Activity Wait 1-2 weeks and resume gradually.
Examples of Activities That Are NOT  Allowed Guideline to Follow
Return to Work Depends on the type of work you perform. The greater the physical demands of the job, the longer the waiting period. Your doctor must release you to return to work. Recommendation: Ask your doctor how long it will be before you can return to work.
Driving You are NOT allowed to drive unless the doctor releases you to this activity. Recommendation: Ask your doctor before you are discharged.
Household/Yard Duties That Are NOT Allowed Hedging or Rototilling Shoveling Dirt or Snow Mowing the Lawn (even with a riding mower) Vacuuming/Sweeping Painting/Washing Windows or Walls
Sports and Recreational Activities Check with your doctor before resuming bowling, golfing, fishing, jogging, swimming, outdoor biking.

For more information on Cardiac Rehabilitation, see these related NetWellness features:

For more information:

Go to the Cardiac Rehabilitation health topic.