Caring for a loved one with heart disease

It is important to take of yourself and seek support when caring for a loved one with a heart condition.

What emotions could I feel after a loved one is diagnosed with a heart condition?

After your loved one is diagnosed with a heart condition or after they experience a sudden cardiac event such as a heart attack, you may experience a variety of emotions. Common feelings include:

  • Guilt: Why did this happen? What could I have done to prevent this? Instead of feeling guilty, try to focus on how to move forward together and integrate healthy changes into your lives.
  • Overwhelmed: How will I care for my loved one while still caring for my children or parents, working, and taking care of my own health? Try to slow things down, develop a plan, and ask for help.
  • Depressed: My mood is low, I have no energy and have trouble sleeping. What should I do? Give yourself some time to adjust. If these symptoms do not improve, talk to your family physician.
  • Worried: What if this happens again? What if they do not recover? Talk to your loved one and health provider about your fears and gather information about the condition, which may address your fears.
  • Isolated: If you're feeling no one else understands how hard it is to cope, connect with caregivers through a formal or informal group such as Heart and Stroke Foundation's online support groups.

How should I best care for my loved one?

Following a new cardiac event or surgery, your loved one may not be able to resume all of their daily activities right away.

Here are some ways to support them while they recover:

  • Learn as much as you can about your loved one's heart condition.
  • Support them in following advice around lifestyle changes or activity, work and driving restrictions.
  • Ask friends and family for help.
  • Use informal and formal community supports.

How do I provide good care to myself and find support for caregivers?

Caregivers for people with a heart condition may include partners, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings and friends. Regardless of your relationship, is important for you to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. Caring for someone can be physically and emotionally draining, especially when some carers also juggle work, home and family life, and may have their own health problems as well.

Understanding how you might feel, being aware of what's involved in caregiving and knowing about the resources available may provide you with some comfort that you are up to the task. Learn more about caring for someone with a heart condition.

Remember:

  • Do not take on everything at once. It takes time to develop a new routine and set up supports.
  • Connect with other caregivers through a formal or informal group.
  • Engage in activities to promote your own mental wellness.
  • Ask for help, take a break, and connect with formal respite services, if appropriate.
  • Talk to your physician or a counsellor if you continue to feel depressed, overwhelmed or anxious.

Resources

The following resources have more information on caregiver support: