Heart attack

Attitude to life after a heart attack

Having a life-threatening experience can affect people's attitude to life, at least in the short term. Some of those who had recently had a heart attack found it hard to feel confident about the future. Others had come to terms with their heart attack and said their lives had returned to normal, or that they had found ways to adapt to the changes or limitations in their life. A few were still finding it hard to cope with the emotional impact of their heart attack (see 'Coping with emotions after a heart attack').

Many people said they now made the most of each day, enjoyed life more, tried not to dwell on their heart problems too much, or worry about the future.

One man who had, had two heart attacks, refused to let the possibility that he might have another one, dominate his life. Another, who had bypass surgery, viewed each day as a bonus and made sure he lived life to the full (see 'Messages for others). One woman felt more hopeful for the future, six months after her heart attack, but she still found the uncertainty hard at times.

A few people said they no longer made long-term plans. One man said it had made him be careful not to lose his temper with his children, because he didn't want that to be their last memory of him. Another said he saw things differently, worried less about things that used to terrify him, while no longer taking good things for granted.

Some had reassessed their priorities and what was important in their life. One man was planning to cut down on his out of work committees and involvements to spend more time with his family.

One woman said she no longer put off doings things she wanted to in order to get chores or housework done. Another woman, who had five children, said she no longer rushed around trying to get everything done, and worrying that she hadn't achieved all that she wanted to in a day.

Many felt lucky to have survived. One 39-year-old man who had a massive heart attack and a cardiac arrest and is now in heart failure talks about how he copes.

Some people had limitations following their heart attack, which can take time to adapt to. (See 'Leisure, travel and hobbies after a heart attack' and 'Returning to work after a heart attack'.)

Last reviewed June 2017.


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