Heart attack

How it affects family life

Here, people talk about how their heart attack affected their family life.

Though many felt that their heart attack did not change relations within the family, some felt less confident about their health and that led to some changes in roles.

Some younger people did not feel physically up to the demands of parenting, but this problem was not necessarily permanent. One man who had heart failure after a heart attack didn't have the energy to play with his young children as much as he wanted to. Some people had to cut down on their work after their illness and this meant a reduction in income.

One young woman was told that after her heart attack another pregnancy would be unwise. After one termination, when she accidentally became pregnant again she decided to go ahead with the pregnancy, monitored by her cardiologist. She had a healthy son. Her only real problem was a lurking fear that she could have another heart attack and no longer be there for her children.

One 42-year-old man had been about to travel with his wife to China to adopt a baby when he had his heart attack. Although they put it off at the time, three years later they did go there and successfully adopted a baby girl.

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Older people also said that they were no longer up to playing with their grandchildren. One man said he was afraid to pick his grandchild up in case something should happen to him, which would make him fall. Another regretted that he could no longer play football or teach his youngest grandchild to ride a bike.

Most people could still travel to visit family members living abroad (see 'Leisure, travel and hobbies after a heart attack'). One man's heart attack had not affected his ability to travel to Australia to visit his wife's relatives.

Some people talked about their parents' reactions. Many said that their parents were shocked and worried. One man, whose mother had herself had a heart attack the year before him, said that she was very shocked and it had made them even closer because they were able to compare experiences. In contrast, one 37- year-old woman's parents found it difficult to understand what she was going through.

Others were surprised by their parents reactions. One woman who had a heart attack when she was 37, was astonished that her parents went back to work the day after it happened, while she was still in hospital. A man in his forties, said that his father wasn't as worried as he thought he would be, which he expects was because he had already had a heart attack himself, and knew that people recover from it.

Older children of people who had, had heart attacks tended to rally round and gave emotional or practical support. One man's sons had encouraged him replace his non-electric lawn mower with an electric one and how they had bought him a special trolley to handle heavy sacks. Another talked about how the contrasting reactions of his sons had helped him during his recovery.

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Children don't expect their parents to be ill and although most people said that their adult children had recovered fairly soon after the initial shock of their heart attack, a few recalled that their heart attack had been very upsetting for their children. One man's 18- year-old son had found it very hard to accept and obviously continued to worry about him, while his daughter appeared to have taken it in her stride. One 52-year-old woman described the way her son reacted to her illness.

 

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Last reviewed June 2017.

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