Heart attack

Getting Information about heart attacks

Having a heart attack is one of the things people most fear. When it actually happens to you, the fear becomes a reality. Knowing that it will be explained to you clearly, when you ask about your condition, the tests and treatments and what you can expect to happen, can help you to relax and cope better during your recovery. As one of the men interviewed said, “it is so important if you truly understand what's wrong with you. At 3 o'clock in the morning when you're having a bad time, you can deal with that far easier than if it's the unknown”.

Some said that they were given plenty of useful information by the cardiac care team. One man explained that his consultant gave him information which helped him to take control and know that he was doing all he could to prevent another heart attack.

Others who we talked to found it difficult to get information from doctors. They weren't forthcoming and they had to ask questions. Many said it had been easier to get information from the cardiac nurses. One man admits that it could be difficult for doctors to judge how much information any one person really wants, which may be why they hold back unless they are asked.

People wanted to know which symptoms to expect so that they didn't have to worry about them. One man felt that his recovery would have been easier if he had been given more information in hospital. Another young woman believed that if she had received more information from her doctors, she would have worried less when she came home from hospital.

A few felt that information was lacking during the 4-6 week period between discharge from hospital and attending a cardiac rehabilitation programme. It was at this stage that many people felt vulnerable and needed information most. One man said that although there was plenty of information on tests and treatment he could find nothing about how he might be feeling.

The sources of information that people had found useful were:

  • The series of heart information booklets published by the British Heart Foundation - available from the BHF website or in the hospital
  • Videos which one can watch in the cardiac care ward
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  • Booklets and newsletters provided by heart support groups and national cardiac organisations (see 'Resources' section)
  • Talks at cardiac rehabilitation programmes on topics, such as how to prevent another heart attack, latest developments in cardiac care and relaxation techniques
  • Newsletters published by heart support groups and national heart organisations
  • Talks by specialists, pharmacists, or dietician's at heart support groups
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  • The cardiac rehabilitation nurse. In some cases she had visited people at home.
  • Talking to other people who have had a heart attack
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  • Books from the library or bookshops
  • The Family Doctor series of books available in chemists
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  • The Internet, but it is important to get accurate information
  • National Institute of Clinical Excellence website (NICE). The action plan for myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Newspaper articles

Last reviewed June 2017.


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