I am
Show me:
Show me:
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. 

WHAT NEXT?

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....

Cardiac rehabilitation information for health professionals

Cardiac rehabilitation information for health professionals

Useful cardiac rehabilitation resources for health professionals....

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina was going about her busy life when a visit to her GP revealed a series of heart conditions that changed her life. ...

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....

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. ...

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your cholesterol and triglyceride levels....

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. ...

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....

Diabetes action plan

Diabetes action plan

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Explore how to manage your financial concerns after a heart attack. ...

The Heart Collective

The Heart Collective

The Heart Collective

Supporting women who are living with a heart condition....

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

The Heart Foundation has designed a series of emails to help people who've had heart attacks (and their loved ones) through their recovery....

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

It wasn’t until Helen's second heart attack that she realised the importance of exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet....

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

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

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

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. ...

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Joanne had five stents inserted into her heart in her early forties. Fifteen years later she had a triple bypass....

Physical activity action plan

Physical activity action plan

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

After having five open heart surgeries between the ages of 13 and 41, Peter knows a thing or two about recovery....

Psychological and social health action plan

Psychological and social health action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your emotional health....

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret was young, fit and otherwise healthy but suffered a major heart attack that could have devastated her life...

Quit smoking action plan

Quit smoking action plan

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'...

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day; some people celebrate, other’s vehemently oppose it. Whatever your opinion, it’s important to remember that the day is about love. All forms of it....

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....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

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

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Explore some useful things to know about intimacy after a 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....

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

There are many medicines that treat heart attack, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart conditions....

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

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.  ...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

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

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Try our Heart Age Calculator to understand what contributes to your risk of heart disease....

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. ...

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....

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Heart healthy breakfasts to start your day right...

Risk factors for women

Risk factors for women

Risk factors for women

In Australia, 90% of women have one risk factor for heart disease, and 50% have two or more. ...

About Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

About Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

About Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

QCVRN provides a framework to strengthen cardiovascular research in Queensland...

Life changing research currently underway

Life changing research currently underway

Life changing research currently underway

Search our current researcher's and the ground breaking research being undertaken....

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

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....

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

Information and FAQs about COVID-19 and heart disease....

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

All you need to know about wholegrains to put you on the right track...

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy – Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack

Fit, active and healthy, Sharon wasn’t expecting a heart attack. However, after experiencing a ‘widow maker’, she counts herself lucky....

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

The game is “hide and seek”. You play it without even realising. The shock is that when you play this game, you could be placing your heart health at risk....

5 Ingredient Recipes Booklet

5 Ingredient Recipes Booklet

5 Ingredient Recipes Booklet

A collection of quick and delicious heart healthy recipes. Get your booklet now! ...

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Understand how smoking can impact your heart health. ...

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

Workplace giving for employees

Workplace giving for employees

Workplace giving for employees

Your employer’s workplace giving program makes it easy to setup regular, tax-deductible donations from your pre-tax income. ...

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

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

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Working together to save Australian hearts...

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

Join our volunteers and make a difference to the heart health of Australians....

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

We've been working on several projects with local governments across Tasmania, big and small....