British Heart Foundation
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Post heart attack blues

Hi. I'm Julel. At the age of 63, just having retired, I had a cardiac arrest 20 months ago. At the time it was terrifying, and although I've made a good recovery I still find myself weepy and depressed. I struggled hard to lose 3 stone in weight over the past months, and got my BMI to 25 but over the past few months I seem to have some sort of death wish, been eating all the wrong things and put half a stone back on.

Wondering if anyone could give me some advice as to why this is happening?

13 Replies

Keep positive! I had crescendo angina 18 months ago at age of 58 & spent 11 days in hospital (fantastic care) with 2 stents. I was overweight (being a retired prop forward rugby player!). At end of it all checks also showed I had occasional AF. I was petrified. Don't forget you've had a life-changing experience, & like me you may have been hit by the sudden brush with death and the realisation you are not after all invisible. Diet changed overnight in hospital. Also don't forget all the drugs suddenly hitting your body are bound to have an effect, some of which can have a side effect of causing weepiness/anxiety/depression. This can fade as you get used to them. I had a very hard time at first at home and really couldn't see a way forward. Couldn't have managed without support from wife & family and great GP surgery. Couldn't exercise at first as all muscles too tight due to tension. Then through perseverance I went from shuffling around garden to walking more in field nearby to walking locally, then started to tackle hills, gentle at first then steeper. Now I can walk 26 miles, pushing myself. I can cycle 26 miles plus. I do lots of walking and cycling and try to do something every day. I have been through the cardiac rehab sessions (invaluable) and still go to the phase IV gym sessions. I eat a mainly Mediterranean diet and wife makes fantastic home made vegetable soups. I lost 5 stone in 5 months then another half stone more gradually and have managed to keep it off. We have changed our lifestyle in terms of diet & exercise. I would also suggest you look at a website called the cardiologist's kitchen (written by cardiac surgeon & consultant in Bath area) for excellent ideas and menus (He has a vested interest after all!).

Get yourself back on track. I know how hard it can be and it can take up to 2 years for body and mind to adjust to it (some manage it no worries at all). Best of're Not on your own - support is there for you.


Andy, thank you so much for this post, I had a heart attack mid Dec, in the first 2/3 weeks following I felt fantastic (it has since been described as being on a high to realise you are still alive). I now have to push myself to do anything which involves breathing (lol). I am not as lucky as you with the support of your wife, I live in Ireland and all of my relatives are in UK or Aus.I push myself to do my thrice weekly radio show, without that I could happily sit here doing nothing, They tell me I am not fit enough for the rehab exercise class, I was disappointed about that but I do have a one to one session at home every 2 weeks, when I read of people younger than me not surviving a heart attack I get scared, life is so fragile. I still have more rehab coming up. just dont like this out of breath weepy feeling, I find it scary, Pleased to read how well you have done with your fitness regime, Well done, I am 77 yrs old. Gill


You had your CA after me. I too put weight on but with determination have got back to an acceptable weight to my Cardiac Nurse and Doctors ( try Weight Watchers)

I can never work out the depression. Occurs occasionally for no apparent reason then back to normal. I have a number of issues and have put it down to thinking too much!!


Dodger, you have used the magic word ""Thinking" I live alone so do have a lot of time alone, I find myself sitting on edge of bed, then realise 20 mins has gone by with me just sitting thinking of many problems and scary health thought, I had a heart attack mid Dec.I am 77 yrs old


Im glad i read your post. I am experiencing the mood swings. They just come over me for no reason. very odd. It is at least good to know i am not alone. I read somewhere that having a heart attack alters the brain a little but i am not sure if this is true as there are so many things written you dont often know what to believe


Thank you both of you for your support. Dodger, I agree about the depression, it seems to just come out of the blue and I'm not sure what triggers it. I'm going to ask my doctor if the tablets might be partly responsible. Certainly thinking too much isn't helping Dodger :-)

Since I posted here I've got back on the cardio friendly diet and do feel better for it. I've never tried weight watchers but do find that Slimming World works for me and have joined a nearby class who were very weLooming and helpful. I'm back to walking the dog 4-5 miles a day at least four times a week too, so he's happier as well.

Thanks you again, I was feeling lost and this forum just pushed me in the right direction!


Good to read that you are getting back on track, due to v bad arthritus walking is difficult, I have def been feeling lost but these letters have really helped me, I dont feel so alone


Yes tough time emotionally and mentally. I too an struggling to lose the weight having dropped 20lbs and needing another 20 off its come to a stop. Mine tho is the return to work and irregular breaks which I'm trying to amend.

Post op when I started walking the dog loved the walks now she runs and hides if I grab the lead as she knows it 8 miles minimum haha


I can totally relate to all this. I am also a diabetic who can bring blood/sugars down when I watch my diet, I lost 3 stone last year although could easily lose another 3 but had an angiogram in January followed 4 days later by a stroke and I then lost all motivation. I had my bypass 3 weeks ago and there has been no change in my appetite and I have put on 1 stone since January which I really can't complain about.

I know I have to start eating better and exercising more but need to feel ready which I hope to do in 3 weeks time after seeing the surgeon and starting fresh.

I also get these waves of depression, not over anything specific but they just roll over me and then go, most odd. I haven't shed a tear over the op, maybe I do need to give into it all.

I am not looking for more tablets as I already take 12 a day (inc pain killers) I'll soon be rattling!!! I will see how things go but if I continue with this depression I will speak to my GP but it sounds like a common side effect of the surgery.

Good luck everyone, as cutting back on naughty food can be hard even when you know your life is better without it!


thank you for mentioning the depression, I do feel better just knowing it does seem to be a fairly common after effect


Depression is a common and understandable reaction. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Both need healing from time to time

You may find this link helpful


Get well soon Julel im 8 weeks since i had 3 heart attack and cry all the time which was never like me



I know just how you feel. I think time does help. Try and read as many positive stories as possible . There are lots. Look in places you would not expect to find them too.


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