For many people, the diagnosis comes out of the blue and completely turns their life around. If you find yourself tearful, or anxious, in the days following diagnosis, that’s normal. It will take time to adjust.
The good news is that treatment for heart conditions is improving all the time. You will now have a plan for your care and expert advice on what you can do to manage your condition.
Even if you haven’t had a heart attack before, just a diagnosis of heart disease can leave you worrying constantly about if (and when) it will happen. You might be fearful of the future because you don’t know what it holds, and you don’t feel like you have control over your body.
The more you learn about your condition and what you can do to manage it, the more you can improve your outlook. It’s especially important to know exactly what to do in the event of a heart attack or stroke. Many people express a determination not to be “beaten” by heart disease, and so they focus their fear into being proactive.
A sense of loss
Many people are worried that they will no longer be able to be active or go at the same pace of life as before. It’s normal to experience a period of depression as you change your expectations about life ahead. Over time, things should get easier. If they don’t, take a look at our guidance on spotting the signs of depression.
That being said, having heart disease does not necessarily mean you will have to give everything up. We’ve got guidance on driving and working with heart disease, as well as what to think about when travelling abroad.
We’ve got more information on common feelings after diagnosis here.
What if I have a heart attack / stroke / chest pain?
Being prepared can make a huge difference, so take a look at our guidance on what to do if you think you’re having a heart attack, stroke, or you’re experiencing chest pain.
How do I reduce my risk of a heart attack or stroke?
The doctor has probably talked to you about “lifestyle changes” but you may be feeling lost as to where to start. We’ve broken down what you need to know into manageable chunks so that it’s easier to get through. Take a look at our managing heart disease section for more information.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the changes you might need to make. To make it manageable, take things one step at a time. You don’t need to learn everything at once. Take a look at one of the pages in the managing heart disease section we’ve linked to above, and think about how you can implement those suggestions this week. Return to the section in a few days.
How am I supposed to stay healthy if I can’t exercise?
Having heart disease doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise, but you will have to be more mindful of what kind of exercise you choose to do. Take a look at our getting active page for advice. Generally, if you’re worried or unsure, you can ask you GP or consultant what exercise would be right for you.
How do I prepare for surgery?
If you’re scheduled to go into hospital for heart surgery, you might find it useful to take a look at our surgery section. It covers the whole process, from what to think about before you go, to what to expect when you’re there and what post-surgery recovery will look like.
- You’ve got a team of healthcare professionals to support you and make sure you get treatment if things go wrong.
- There’s lots of information out there on adopting healthier habits. It can sometimes seem a little too much, so check out our managing heart disease section for the essentials.
- You’re not alone. There are 2.3 million people in the UK with a diagnosis of coronary heart disease. There are lots of people you can talk to about what you’re going through.
Let us help make things simpler. Our role is to answer any questions you might have along your journey, and help you access suitable support, whether it’s bereavement support or local groups to get involved with to tackle any feelings of isolation. By having everything in one place, you won’t need to wonder where to look for the answer to your question.
If this is the kind of support you think would help, join us. Sign up for an account here and you’ll be able to:
- Call us as much as you want, whenever you’ve got a question
- Access the information on this site as much as you need
- Let us know where you live and get information on local support services