The heart is a muscle that works like a pump, allowing the blood to circulate throughout the entire body. Practicing sports activities on a regular basis contributes to the well-being and adequate function of your heart, as well as to develop its endurance, its power and its tone.
A 30-minutes period of daily exercise has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 25 to 30 %. It also decreases the risk of recurrence of adverse cardiac events in patients who had a previous heart attack.
Physical activity is cornerstone in your treatment plan after a heart attack. This should ideally be resumed as part of a cardiac rehabilitation and therapeutic education program. In all cases, it should be done under the supervision of your treating physician. Before practicing your favorite sport, ask your cardiologist who will advise you in choosing an activity suited to your physical condition and cardiac sequelae, if present.
The preferred physical activities are walking, jogging or slow jogging, cycling and swimming. A regular practice of sports is essential. You must avoid sudden and/or intense efforts. The practice of intense competing sports is most often contraindicated. For other sports, they can only be resumed after a careful assessment by your cardiologist.
The 10 golden rules decreed by the Club des Cardiologues du Sport for the detection of precursor “warning signs” of a coronary acute event are:
- I report to my physician any chest pain or abnormal shortness of breath occurring during exertion*
- I report to my physician any heart palpitation occurring during exertion or just after exertion*
- I report to my physician any discomfort occurring during exertion or just after exertion*
- I always perform a 10-minute warm-up and cool-down during and after physical activities
- I drink 3 to 4 sips of water every 30 minutes during exercise training and competition
- I avoid intense activities in outdoor temperatures of < – 5o or > + 30o and during peaks of pollution
- I do not smoke, or in any case never in the 2-hours window before and after my exercise training
- I never use illicit substances/drugs and I generally avoid self-medication
- I do not exercise vigorously if I have a fever, nor within 8 days of a flu episode (fever and body aches)
- I will have a medical check-up before resuming intense sporting activity if I am a man over 35 years old and a woman over 45 years old.