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Coming to terms with a heart attack

Recovering from a heart attack takes time - both physically and emotionally

Recovering from a heart attack takes time - both physically and emotionally

After the shock of the heart attack and the initial recovery period it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions about what has happened.

There may be lots of thoughts and questions going through your mind and you may wonder what the future is going to be like. Just like the physical aspects of recovery, recovering from the emotional impact of a heart attack can take time.

How you may feel

Some examples of how you might be affected include:

  • Sudden tiredness, feeling tense or scared, unusual bouts of bad temper, butterflies in your tummy, breathlessness and a pounding heart. These are all symptoms of physical anxiety caused by stress.
  • You may feel your role within the family has changed, especially during the early period of your recovery; this can make you feel vulnerable.
  • The suddenness of the heart attack can sometimes make you afraid to do anything in case something else might happen.
  • You may become scared of being alone with your children in case you become ill in front of them.
  • You may find it hard to be dependent on other people, even for a short time, especially if you have been previously fit and healthy.
  • Worries about returning to work, finances and your future health can build up and add to stress and anxiety.
  • You may feel frustrated by the recovery time and ignore the advice altogether. This can lead you to overdo things, trying to prove you are invincible or back to normal. You may even pretend nothing has happened.

It may help you to know that all of these feelings are normal. Try not to bottle up how you are feeling. Call the Advice Line nurses for a confidential chat or speak to someone else that you can trust. Learning to communicate with those close to you will help and is an important part of making a good recovery and moving on from what has happened.

If you keep these feelings, fears and worries to yourself then you may appear moody, irritable or to be behaving oddly. This can leave family members, and close friends, confused and they won't know how help you.

Be open and honest about what has happened to you. Use the time you have during your recovery to learn relaxation techniques and make this a part of your new daily routine.

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