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. 
 
 
The Heart Foundation helpline can give you more support and information. Just call 13 11 12 during business hours. 

You might also be interested in

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

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....

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’

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. ...

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...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This cardiac services 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. ...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Join the Heart Foundation in South Australia for the journey of a lifetime, trekking the ancient Flinders Ranges to help save Australian hearts....

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

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....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height?...

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win $20,000 while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

How can I eat more fruit and vegetables for a healthy heart?

How can I eat more fruit and vegetables for a healthy heart?

How can I eat more fruit and vegetables for a healthy heart?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Nutrition Resources for Practice and Patient Care

Nutrition Resources for Practice and Patient Care

Nutrition Resources for Practice and Patient Care

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Discover our Annual reports from 2013 onwards. ...

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

There are a number of medications you could be prescribed after a heart attack....

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

A small, battery-powered device that is fitted under the skin of your upper chest....

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

At first, it didn’t cross my mind it could be something serious. ...

WEBINAR | Absolute CVD risk assessment practical update

WEBINAR | Absolute CVD risk assessment practical update

A multidisciplinary panel of experts discuss the practical application of absolute CVD risk assessment through Heart Health Checks....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

David reflects on how his life changed when he had a heart attack at 35 and how he got back on track....

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the broad term for conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart muscle. ...

Order patient resources online

Order patient resources online

Search and order from our range of printed patient resources online. ...

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Statistics and information on heart failure in Australia ...

State based advocacy

State based advocacy

State based advocacy activity supporting local communities...

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

Ask the experts: caring for people with CVD during COVID-19...