I am
Being a carer for a heart attack patient
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know.

Key takeaways

  • Heart attacks can happen suddenly, and can be a huge shock for everybody. 
  • Both the patient and the carer need support. 
  • There are many simple strategies for care and self-care. 

 

3 min read
Heart attacks can happen suddenly, and this can be a huge shock for friends and family. Becoming a carer can also be daunting, especially if you haven’t been in that role before.  

You can support your loved one by: 
 
  • Finding out the steps for recovery 
  • Going to appointments 
  • Supporting them during cardiac rehabilitation. 
It’s also important to take care of yourself. 

Recovery  

The person you’re caring for will need a lot of support. Before they leave hospital, make sure you understand what they need and how to help them. Their healthcare team will be able to advise you on their needs and the support that’s available. 

It’s also important to get information on helping the person to live a healthy lifestyle. This will reduce their risk of further problems. You can also educate yourself on heart attack symptoms, so you know what to look out for if it happens again. 

Emotional support  

Recovering from a heart attack can be a very emotional experience for both the patient and the people around them. Talk to them about how they’re feeling and how they’re coping. Some people find it hard to talk about their condition. If they’re uncomfortable talking with you, you could encourage them to attend counselling, support groups or other services that the doctor or hospital may offer. 

Learn more about managing emotions after a heart attack. 

Be aware of your emotions too. It’s normal to have feelings of anger, frustration and sadness along with positive feelings, such as love, pride and gratitude. There’s help for you, too. Connecting with other heart patients and carers can really help. 

Being a carer  

Being a carer can be challenging physically and emotionally. To avoid burn out, you need to look after yourself and accept help when you can. 

Most carers have other responsibilities at home, at work or both. Getting the balance right can be hard. It’s easy for your caring role to take over and for other things to get neglected. Making plans and setting goals can be a good way to keep things under control. 

Looking after yourself 

Part of looking after yourself is taking breaks. It’s good for your own wellbeing and will help you give better care. Try and find someone to share the caring with. This will be good for you both.  

Keep doing the activities you enjoy, and make your health a priority. Focus on ways to reduce your stress. Mindfulness, relaxation and breathing exercises are very helpful. If you start to feel anxious or depressed, talk to a friend, a family member, a doctor or counsellor. There’s help out there for you, too.  

When you next see your GP, tell them that you’re a carer so they can keep an eye on your health, and if you’re working, let your employer know too. 

Support services 

Needing help doesn’t mean you’re not coping. Caring for someone is a huge task and a bit of extra support can make a big difference. If you are unable to get help from friends and family, there are other resources, such as the Carer Gateway, Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres. 

It’s also a good idea to check that the person you’re caring for is getting all the financial support they’re entitled to. They can check to see if they’re eligible for benefits at Centrelink. 

Helping a friend 

When a friend or colleague has a heart attack, there’s a lot you can do to support them. 

You can:
 
  • Try to understand how they’re feeling. They may be shocked, worried, overwhelmed, depressed or anxious. By understanding their emotions, you can offer support. 
  • Listen. Your friend may want to talk about their heart attack. Listen to their concerns, but don’t rush to give advice, even if it’s tempting. 
  • Educate yourself. They may feel overwhelmed by all the information they’re getting. Help them research their condition and treatment options, and help them put a list of questions together. 
  • Work on a recovery plan. 
  • Socialise. It’s easy to isolate yourself after a health scare. Set up a regular outing or event. Being around people who care really helps. Support groups are good for this too. 
  • Get active together. Exercise is a big part of recovery, and is a mood booster too. You could join a Heart Foundation Walking group. 
 

You might also be interested in

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since. ...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Information on how air pollution, heatwaves and bushfires can impact heart health, and what you can do to look after yourself. ...

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Honour the life of a loved one with a donation to the Heart Foundation. Your donation offers hope for Australian hearts....

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition where your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be....

Know your risk: Family history and heart disease 

Know your risk: Family history and heart disease 

Know your risk: Family history and heart disease 

A family history of heart disease could mean you are at greater risk....

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years....

Clinical guidelines and position statements

Clinical guidelines and position statements

Clinical guidelines and position statements

We have developed a range of resources for you to use as part of routine care. ...

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of hypertension....

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

We value the support of all of our corporate partners....

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter has lived with a rare heart condition since he was 14, but hadn’t given it too much thought until his 30s....

What is an arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia is a fault in the heart’s electrical system, which affects your heart’s pumping rhythm....

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

The Tick Program has made a substantial contribution to the health of Australians over the past 26 years....

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...

Chilli and garlic prawn spaghetti

Chilli and garlic prawn spaghetti

Chilli and garlic prawn spaghetti

15 minutes
Serves 2

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

Moroccan vegetarian tray bake

Moroccan vegetarian tray bake

Moroccan vegetarian tray bake

30 minutes
Serves 2

Heart Bypass Surgery

Heart Bypass Surgery

Coronary bypass surgery is a common procedure that can dramatically improve the health of your heart. ...

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Learn about the common tests your doctor may want you to have to diagnose your heart condition....