A post-heart attack checklist

You’ve just experienced a heart attack or other type of cardiac event.  You’re overwhelmed and frightened and wondering what happens next on this journey towards recovery. Knowledge is power – here’s when you need to take charge of that recovery by learning everything you possibly can about your heart health.

Complete this important checklist to make sure you are on the right road. 

1. Lifestyle changes:

  • I have been fully instructed on the warning signs and symptoms of heart attack, and the actions to take if I experience any of these signs or symptoms again. (yes/no) _____
  • If I am a smoker, I have been told to stop, and referred to one or more smoking cessation programs. (y/n) _____
  • I have learned about heart healthy eating to improve my diet from now on (y/n)_____
  • I have received detailed activity instructions for the next 4-6 weeks, and have been referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program. (y/n) _____
  • I have been told about how common post-heart attack depression can be, that it is treatable, and that I should report early signs to my physician for help (y/n) ___
  • The importance of daily exercise has been explained to me. (y/n) _____
  • My doctor has talked to me about when I can go back to work. (y/n) _____
  • My doctor has talked to me about when I can resume sexual activity. (y/n) _____
  • My doctor has talked to me about when I can resume driving. (y/n) _____

2.  Assessing the risk of another heart attack in the near future:

  • The status of my coronary arteries has been assessed by either stress/thallium study (y/n) _____ or cardiac catheterization/angiogram (y/n) _____
  • The condition of my coronary arteries has been explained to me as follows: __________________________________________________________________________
  • The plan for following the status of my coronary arteries over time is: __________________________________________________________________________  

3.  The amount of damage done to my heart has been assessed by:

  • Stress/thallium study (y/n) _____
  • Cardiac catheterization/angiogram (y/n) _____
  • MUGA scan (y/n) _____
  • Echocardiogram (y/n) _____
  • I (do / do not) have some degree of heart failure.

4) Important numbers I need to know:

  • My lipid profile has been measured, and the results are:  Total cholesterol _______ LDL cholesterol _______ HDL cholesterol _______ Triglycerides _______
  • My blood pressure is ____ /____
  • My ejection fraction is _______% (if under 30%, see #6 below)

5.  Names and doses of medications prescribed for me:

  • Aspirin ________________________________
  • Beta blocker ____________________________
  • Calcium channel blocker ____________________
  • ACE inhibitor ___________________________
  • Statin _________________________________
  • Anti-platelet ____________________________
  • Blood thinner ___________________________
  • Others ________________________________

Note: These medicines are considered to help prevent further heart attacks and reduce the risk of death. If I have not received a prescription for one or more of these medications, the reason is _______________________.

6. Preventing sudden death:

  • If my ejection fraction is 30% or less (or if I have had heart failure, and my ejection fraction is 35% or less), I have been referred to an electrophysiologist to discuss the possibility of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) on: ________ (date)
  • Members of my family have been trained in CPR (y/n): ______
Source: Cardiologist Dr. Richard Fogoros

How many of these questions were you unable to answer?


6 thoughts on “A post-heart attack checklist

  1. This is brilliant. I love the idea of checklists – no patient should be sent home without something like this. THANKS! Love your site…


  2. I think people are so overwhelmed after a heart attack that they may or may not be able to understand or “take in” the huge pile of info that’s thrown at them by nurses and doctors upon discharge, and maybe they’re so glad to be leaving for home they just nod and smile as if they do.


  3. When I left hospital after my heart attack, I was sent home with a big pile of written material to read mostly about healthy eating. No talk with physician or nurse about my family life, sex life, cardiac rehab, or more importantly the hugely traumatic emotional blow this experience had been. It’s like they were all just relieved I had survived so they could boot me out the door and free up my bed for the next patient on the assembly line! This list is a real eye-opener to how things COULD and SHOULD be.


  4. I just showed this checklist to my sister who had a heart attack three months ago. We were both stunned – so many of these suggestions were NOT given to her when she was discharged from hospital.

    No mention of cardiac rehabilitation for instance – she found out about that only through a nurse friend and had to do all her own detective work to track down the registration people.

    Everything she’s doing now to improve her heart health or cope with the stress and trauma of what she’s just been through she’s had to research and learn by herself.

    How can this be happening with vulnerable heart attack survivors? She’s printing this list off and bringing it to her doctor’s appointment on Jan. 5th, and he’d better have some good answers for her. THANK YOU for this very much.


  5. I personally admire the information that Carolyn shares with women
    everywhere. Although I’m still only a student nurse practitioner, I recommend it to family and patients as a valuable source for information. Posts like this one are priceless pieces of information that every person should be sure to know about their own health. I’m glad a website like this exists. It’s needed! Thank you!


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