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Family & Friends How You Can Support a Heart Patient

If a loved one is admitted to the hospital due to an unexpected cardiac event or needs a heart implant, you may initially feel shocked and powerless. In this section, you will not only learn how you can support but how you can become a source of encouragement and motivation for your partner, relative or friend living with a heart disease.

Two women

Take Care of Yourself

It may sound odd to start with you. In the end, it is your loved one who is living with a heart disease, right? However, families can feel powerless or scared when faced with a cardiovascular disease, surgery or treatment. On top of worry or fear, you may also experience guilt, anger or concern about the financial consequences of the disease. If you feel anxiety, guilt or anger for extended periods of time, you may want to talk to someone you trust. It is really important that you recognize your emotional state and take steps to manage your own health.

Partners often feel responsible for the patient’s well-being. They may take on extra duties at home, may try to be available 24/7 and tend to forget to take care of themselves. It is crucial that you try to get enough sleep, follow a healthy lifestyle, and continue to do the things you enjoy. Also take some time to build a support network for yourself so that it is not just you looking after your partner. Your friends and family members may welcome the chance to help out.

Man working out in a park

Keep Talking

Communication is very important for keeping families and friends close and well-connected. It helps for everyone to talk honestly about how they are feeling. This includes everyone in the family, including children. Having open and honest conversations may not only reduce episodes of stress, it may also bring the emotional support that is needed by everyone in the family.

One of the most common complaints from people who have had a heart attack, for instance, is that their family and friends became over-protective or treat them as frail. Some people describe an abrupt change in their relationship as they take on the role of a nurse rather than a partner. Patients, in turn, may hide their feelings and thoughts to protect the partner from worrying. Successfully living with a heart disease requires being open and honest and recognizing each other’s needs.

Elderly couple in a cafe

Be a Second Pair of Eyes and Ears

Even though there is no substitute for your loved one taking their health into their own hands, do not underestimate the small ways to help. “Just being there”, for instance by volunteering to join when your family member or friend is seeing their doctor, can be very helpful. You may either compare notes afterwards or make sure that all questions get asked, including the seemingly “stupid” ones. After all, getting informed together about the heart problem at hand is a good way to feel more confident in moving forward with life.

Elderly couple with a physician

Make Changes Together

Successfully living with a heart disease does not only mean to take medication regularly or having a heart implant. For most patients, it above all means making meaningful changes to their lifestyle. This can range from eating a balanced diet to leading a more active life or reducing stress. As a partner, relative or friend, you can be help by joining forces – maybe by trying out new recipes, learning a new sport or going for a walk together?

Elderly couple cooking