Heart attack

Having a heart attack has a dramatic effect on the person who has experienced it – it is painful and frightening, and afterwards there is worry about whether you will have another one, yet at the same time you are being asked to do exercise and make changes to your way of life. If you are at work, there is concern about whether you can continue in your present job, and at home, other people may start to do things for you which you used to do yourself. Your family may start to see you in a different light, as someone who must not be involved in the worries they have about paying the bills, or be included in the normal activities of family life in case it is too much for you. You may want to shout at your most caring relatives about how unfair it all seems, yet you can’t do that, because they have new worries of their own.

One answer to all this in Staffordshire has been to create a Facebook site for anyone concerned about heart attacks to look at this link. This Cardiac Rehabilitation page has videos giving advice from consultants and patients, as well as an exercise programme for people who have had a heart attack. It can be helpful for both patients and relatives to learn more about how to begin to pick up the pieces after a heart attack.

There is also a Closed Facebook Group for people who attend the Cardiac Rehabilitation programme. This lets patients message each other, and is a great source of support. Patients understand about the frustrations felt by other people in the same situation, and can give support and advice that only people who have experienced such an event can provide. For people who have had a heart attack, the Facebook group allows them to vent their frustrations outside their immediate family, and they may not then interact with their families in as negative a way.

Learning how other people are progressing following their heart attack and their rehabilitation programme gives patients and their relatives encouragement that they can all try to be more positive. Often, patients are recommended to make lifestyle changes, and there are several apps which can help with this. You can have a look at these in the ‘Apps for managing heart attacks’ section below. You can find lots of other information on the NHS:home website, British Heart Foundation UK for heart attack and cardiac rehabilitation,  and this NHS pdf link.

Although at first, you might expect follow-up consultations to be face to face, once you are settled, it may be that a Skype video consultation would be suitable, particularly if you have to travel a long distance to be seen. There is a video below of a nurse reviewing a patient with diabetes using Skype.