Partner needing advice: My partner had... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Partner needing advice


My partner had a heart attack in June and had two stents there and then. He is currently waiting for two more to be put in and is on his 6 week period off work.

Since he has come home we have changed his diet, bought bikes and upped our exercise levels and all seems to be going well.

The only problem I am having is with his personality which has changed slightly. He used to be a very calm, laid back type of guy who took everything in his stride, he was always doing things around the house on his time off ( we bought a new house in September last year and pre-heart attack he had helped fit a new kitchen, fitted a bathroom and a cloakroom, taken an en-suite and made it into a wardrobe - so you can see he was quite an active chap) and he was always enthusiastic with getting on and doing things. Since the heart-attack he has no desire to do anything, sits around the house all day and plays his guitar and doesn't feel interested in doing any of the jobs around the house. Now i know you are all going to tell me that he's just had a HA and to give him time, and I have no problem with that, I tell him to listen to his body and do what he wants, but I am struggling with his short-temperedness and his abruptness. He had become very waspish, very snappy and his temper seems to go from 1 - 100 in two seconds flat...we can't go a week without having a row which usually ends up with 4 hours silence and then him apologising for his behaviour.

Have you had any problems with your partners change in personality? Do you think it is down to the meds or the whole situation? Will this be a permanent thing or will he go back to normal? I've never been through this before so would appreciate all help

19 Replies

Hi Katie,

As you say, he needs time. It is still very, very early days if it only happened in June. I doubt it is the meds but I'm no medical professional. That's something to ask the doctor.

A big part of a HA is being scared that it will happen again. You really have no idea what might bring another HA on. Even stupid little things like stretching made me worry. Your confidence takes a major blow and it takes a while to start getting that back. For active people, that can be difficult, and an effect of that is not wanting to do much. He should be taking it easy at this stage anyway. As his confidence grows he should start doing more and his mood will improve.

He should be offered a place on a cardiac rehab course starting several weeks after the HA, although having more stents may affect when that is. Cardiac rehab is the place to start exercising properly, under the supervision of medical staff... that is invaluable in terms of getting your confidence back and understanding what you can and can't do. I'm sure that will improve things.

For some, another part of a HA is depression. I can't say if that's what's happening in your fella's case but it's something you should be aware of. Again, something to discuss with the doctors... it's not unusual in heart patients and can be treated.

One last thing... when someone has a HA it's very hard on family members as you are finding out. Things will improve but knowledge, communication and patience is key. I'm sure he's still trying to come to terms with it in his own head first, it's not easy and takes time, but take this time to research and learn so when the dust clears you can get on with your future with a proper understanding.

Hope things start to improve for you both soon.

Katie6 in reply to Marc68

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. I do appreciate it

Marc68 in reply to Katie6

No problem at all Katie. We're mostly all in the same boat on here and just getting it off your chest can sometimes help.


Hi Katie - you've really touched on something important here, and it's great that you feel able to talk about it. So many people notice changes in personality after treatments for heart attacks, but we still don't quite understand why this happens. There are so many theories, but no matter the cause it's obviously quite tough to live with for both that person and their loved ones. BHF Professor Andrew Steptoe was interviewed about this subject for Heart Matters magazine, so here's a link to that article here in case it's of any help to you:

Something that can really help is counselling, which your partner or both of you as a couple can access via a GP or sometimes even through workplace schemes. Sometimes people can struggle to express themselves, or they may even have feelings of guilt or anxiety that are bottled up and sadly the case is that we always take things out on the people we love the most.

I'm sorry I can't be of any more help, but hopefully people will feel comfortable to share their experiences here with you as well. In the meantime, you might find it useful to have a read of our booklet on heart disease and emotional wellbeing:

Take care,


Kristin1812Heart Star in reply to Hidden

Do try the booklet. Heart disease and emotional wellbeing. Its good, and I was that woman with the chicken! Read to find out more!

skid112Heart Star

Hi Katie, I too have put family through some rather choice times, mostly (my head says, my wife would say fully) unjustified. No I don't know what drives it, its irrational and unpleasant. As advice, he needs to talk to someone, counselor, people on here, there is also a facebook group, British Hearties he could join. Sharing how he feels, a big step for most guys, helps. Certainly for me its now focused on sharing my own experiences and trust me its very cathartic. I did the counselling, poorly, I talk on here, on here too often haha but sharing is caring. There are regional groups as well I understand, might be worthwhile in that nano second of normality to mention it, failing that leave the page open to BHF throw the damn laptop/IPad,/tablet at him

Katie6 in reply to skid112

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. He and I had a good chat about it and, even tho it was a small step, it certainly was a step in the right direction

Tiny_18 in reply to Katie6

Katie I can very much relate to your situation. My husband had 2 HA last year exactly 4 weeks apart to the day!! Both times he has stents fitted. After the second HA I had a mild meltdown on him (yes I felt/feel bad for doing it), I felt like my world had been turnt upside down and put on a high spin in the washer. I had already dealt with 4 weeks of walking on egg shells and dealing with 4 children who also couldn’t (and still struggle with) his condition, we sat up for hours and had a heart to heart and aired and accepted each other’s feelings. Like you we still have the odd bad day, I snap back when he’s shitty and end up feeling awful and guilty because I don’t want him to over do it and risk having another HA or worse, the whole experience has made me so thankful that he’s still here to remain as my hubby/best friend and a great dad.

We are looking into family and couple counselling so we can all openly talk and get advice and support but as yet I can not find anywhere. We are waiting to hear back from CAHMS just so the children can get support with their emotions about it all.

It has got easier for us but it has been bloody hard going! There just is not any/enough support for us that are also dealing with their conditions so that maybe we could have a better understanding in supporting our partners.

Take care of yourself too


P.s sorry for ranting

What I find frustrating is, my fella was driving me Nutts before my heart attack. In fact I would say the stress of that, helped it along.

The stress didn't stop when I had my attack Sep 2014. Like I thought it would. I thought he would be more careful as he said it was a bit worrying that I had a HA at fifty. But no, still carried on regardless.

Then of course I had to have the bypass 2016. I really thought that would sort him out. Lasted all about five minutes. So when I let him know he is upsetting me. And I ask him to give me some space as I'm not feeling to clever. He follows me around & harasses me.

So he can then say, oh it's you with the issues. You're being dramatic & a stress head. It's cause of your meds.

No! It's because he doen't stop winding me up deliberately. So I walk away & he follows.

He is a nice enough guy & he would never hurt me physically. However, just such hard work to live with. Even his family & friends can't handle him.

And that's where he gets me, I feel I have to protect him. I think he is undiagnosed autistic.

Still childlike. Very waring, especially when you have health issues.

Oh dear, did I just do the rant? Opps! Sorry:)

skid112Heart Star in reply to Sina-6491

Rant fully deserved. If it were me I'd probably be doing some jail time, you deserve a medal

Sina-6491 in reply to skid112


DAFFODILLS in reply to Sina-6491

Im in a similar position I could have written that myself !! All I have done is cry since this happened and I suppose they get fed up too I was told he was sick of being a babysitter !! so he went away for a week guess what I was happier and healthier he came back and it starts again straight away !

Kristin1812Heart Star

Hi Katie. Of course it's hard to pick yourself up, after such life threatening events, Also I don't think many people return to normal. Often the journey takes you to a new normal!

I've had repeat HAs and interventions, and a kind of helplessness seems to set in.

As I didn't know what caused the HAs. I was afraid of everything,

There is light at the end of the tunnel! I did it by slow steps, small targets, tiny victories. Lovely family. A loving kind of boot up my bottom, occasionally. Supervised exercise. Antidepressants. Counselling. Etc etc.

I'm not back to normal. I'm someone different, More reflective, quieter. Regular exerciser. Lighter and fitter. Probably much nicer to be with!

I'm sorry there seems to be no quick fix. Probably a slow fix? It sound v hard on you, as well.

What worked for me was v slow steps. Small treats, I couldnt resist, making me try doing something new. Each one became an achievement,

One example. I was taken out for coffee to my favourite cafe, by the sea. I could only just walk to the closest seat, the first time. A week later, I even queued and ordered the coffees! I felt a super-achievement.

Good luck.


Really interesting comments - my experience is slightly different in the sense I understand where my anger comes from and the emotional instability. The first time it is is the scariest thing because you feel totally out of control (again - as with heart attack).

From then on it became a normal pattern of adjustment to my frustration.

It took time to find the adjustment and control. I slipped back to painting and art, music is creative it creates a calming emotional management tool.

Healing the heart takes more time than we allow, because we see the physical improvement immediately but HA has a crushing impact and just as a torn hamstring takes months to heal a damaged heart muscle takes that amount of time.

Small steps.

Well I can't say that my partner was laid back before. She's alway been prone to unpredictability and mood swings. But since the heart attack in March, life feels exhausting and impossible. It's very hard not to lose myself in the vitriol of the verbal abuse which, in the moment, I tend to believe in and get rattled by. I'm exhausted by it, and by the almost complete lack of interest in me and my wellbeing. There is the odd gesture of kindness. The other trouble is that this has become the new normal, so I start to be sadly grateful for what should be normal behaviour day in and day out. It's a relief that it's not my imagination.

Sina-6491 in reply to Vixt

Sounds to me that you need to talk to someone. It's not right that you are feeling all aloan in this.

My advice, get some councilling on how to cope with the other half's unpredictability. She may need some councilling herself. Good luck now, Jo :)

Seymour2929 in reply to Vixt

Hi Vixt. ..that sounds like an exhausting place to be for both of you... Does your partner recognise her 'mood swings', and if so, has she ever sought medical advice to help her find a better balance physically and emotionally? Can only imagine that cardio stuff on top of what she was experiencing before, is a fairly toxic mixture for her, which is having a huge impact for both of you. It doesn't sound as if you find enough peace/forgiveness time between the 'verbal' to try and work out together what is actually happening for both of you? Would some counselling help, perhaps? Hope that you both have family and friends around to support you as well. Take care.

Well I note this was a post from 9 months ago.... so really interested how things have progressed as your partner sounds pretty much like me. I am 43

now, had a HA in August 17 with 5 subsequent stents a reduced LVEF (I think) and only slight damage so i am told.

The mix of emotions; fear, anger and relief repeating - it is no wonder my counsellor states that it is akin to the grieving process , the normal time being a couple of years to get over and move forward properly. I am having more good days than bad now- working through some medication related issue (I think!) but moving forwards slowly. I am blessed to have a wonderful partner and four year old daughter -but I can’t help outbursts sometimes - I am scared of being a burden in the future, of something further happening in front of them- it’s difficult. My partner understands most of the time, but I feel like I can’t share all my fears or it would make her worry too. I am fighting this thing, I won’t give up , but I do have my helpless moments. I was also interested to hear of how others have been through a similar journey of building confidence with gradually ramping up activities; go to the shop, go to the supermarket, got to the park, go on holiday etc. I also am a guitarist (a bad one), and bought a piano recently - which I then sat down and cried at because I could not play it and was thinking what was the point? - a bad day... lol... but I am gradually getting used to the the new ‘normal’ and I know that must be focusing on the here and now - which means playing that damn piano too. All us newly/ renewed sensitive musical types should form a band perhaps... no points for coming up with a band name...ha.

I hope you and your partner are now in a better place and things have moved forward (with good health) .Thank you for sharing this - it helped me. Love and best wishes ,


Hi Katie6, sorry to hear about this. I was undoubtedly the same as your husband. Flew off the handle for no apparent reason. I’m ok now but I think it was possibly down to frustration and “ Why me”. I was very active so couldn’t understand it. I also thought for a while if this is it so why bother with the trivial things in life and especially things I didn’t enjoy doing of that makes sense. Encourage him to go to cardiac rehab as soon as it’s offered. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for both of you but I’m confident with time it’ll settle down. Take care.

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