Log in
British Heart Foundation
6,800 members4,257 posts


Good morning all,

A couple of weeks ago my 63 year old wife was feeling unwell so for the first in about 10 years she booked a GP appointment. Unfortunately our GP (who we have had for 40 years had recently retired and she had to see a new woman GP.

My wife proceeded to describe her symptoms only to be told by the GP that she didn't have time for all this as my wife only had a ten minute slot. The symptoms were feeling drained, neck pain ,jaw pain, nausea, sweating, light headed ,dizzy etc. She was told that these would be looked at in a couple of weeks and to make another appointment. She was told to have blood tests, and take a stool sample to the surgery, which she did.

Anyway the upshot was that 4 days ago my wife took a turn for the worse and I had to call an ambulance. she was taken to our local hospital where a heart attack was diagnosed.

She is now out of the Coronary Care Unit and awaiting an Angiogram to establish what caused it, I am hoping a Stent will be all that is needed but they did say she may end up at St. Thomas's in London for a bypass.

I am so angry with the GP for not listening to her symptoms and feel she has been negligent. My children are also angry and have made a complaint to the surgery . My wife has never had significant health problems, doesn't smoke or drink, eats healthily and is not overweight. She knew things weren't right and sought help (both her parents died from heart problems) but was ignored by the GP. I have my fingers crossed that we get good news soon. Sorry for the rant but I needed to get that off my chest.

13 Replies

Oh Plonk, I totally understand your feelings and believe that by sharing what has happened with your wife on this site is good - not just for you to publicly air your anger and despair, but hopefully, for you to realise you are not alone in what happened.

Sadly, like the majority of GP practices, when it comes to HEART matters, your wife was having trouble with the GP both listening and actually 'hearing' what she was explaining.

This is happening all to often. You are so doing the right thing to raise the issues with the GP and practice.

Having 'taken the bull by the horns' myself, and raised both verbal and written complaints at my GP practice, the simple but ultimate truth that has come out of this is that the GP does not know what to do when there are no totally OBVIOUS signs to indicate an illness or injury. When it comes to the heart beginning to give symptoms, it would appear that most GPs do not recognise them, nor know about them.

It is a 'specialist' subject. Whilst attending their GP training they have to study/work in cardiology and those that get a 'passion' for this area go on to study/train in this specific area to become cardiologists etc. GPs don't. Unfortunately, it is a reality.

I now see my GP as 'the dear old soul' that he is. The chap/chapess who has a calling and wants to 'help' people.

And the reality of this is, that where the illness concerns the heart, we as the patient suffering MUST research everything that concerns (1)what we have been diagnosed with, (2)what medication and (3)treatments are available and also recommended best, (4)side affects, down-sides, risks, (5)research studies, past, recent and current, and most importantly, (6)what we want the GP to refer us for when we go to see him.

If he is unable or unwilling to, then contact your arrhythmia team/cardiologist yourself.

I can honestly say that as a heart failure patient I am scared of what the future is and holds.

But from initial diagnosis followed by shock, absolute fear and then anger at the GP failures - the research I do along with the care I have received from the arrhythmia and cardiology teams have brought about a realisation and understanding that have given me peace.

Now, if something appears to be wrong in the NHS system, I let them know because otherwise it will continue to fail.

I wish your wife all the best in her treatments and good luck with your complaint. You are doing a good thing.


Hello Plonk and welcome to the forum, i am sorry to hear of your wife's illness and the problems with your GP.

The angiogram will be used to determine if her arteries are blocked and the extent of the blockage, as you say hopefully just stenting will be required. Please ensure she takes up the offer of cardio rehab, an exercise and series of lectures designed to help her get moving and to realise how much she can actually do post event and build her confidence.

With regards her health, there are many on here too, who never had any issues before, non smokers, vegans, very fit athletic types who have also suffered. That said with her family history she should have been on a screening list. This was true in my case as well but sadly no such screening.

Your GP seems to have missed the key clues in your wifes description, but and without trying to defend her, GPs generally do have very little training in this area, there are countless stories on here of the lack of care/aftercare within the general practitioner system. This is not to discourage your complaint as i believe it needed to be raised.

The forum is here for you to rant, to ask advice and to give personal experiences, plus a support group for all, family, friends as well as the patient.

I do hope your wife makes a prompt recovery and I hope we can give you and her support should you need it.



I was told I had anxiety issues. I had attended GP appointments basically suffering from breathlessness, but I also had cold/flu symptoms and was told I probably had a virus. This was a repetive message I was getting from my GP practice (rarely saw same GP) for months but I had X-rays and blood test all came back normal. One thing nobody ever tested was my blood pressure, maybe it would have given a high reading, but given that I have always had low blood pressure they may have not deemed it necessary to test it. The outcome of my complaint is:- you are not a typical heart attack candidate. Healthy, fairly fit not overweight etc, My response was ' what is a typical heart attack candidate?' And some virus that was. But since my event I'm looked after so much better.

1 like

Luckily for me my Dr did listen to my heart when I visited earlier this year with disorientation.

I was reading an article recently saying that Drs don't use their stethoscope any more.

I didn't have any other classic heart symptoms, was fit and healthy, never smoked. Now, following my angiogram I'm on the waiting list for an AVR.

So I do sympathise with your wife. I know how anxious she must be feeling, but she's in good hands now. Best of luck for the future.


I was told that block arteries cannot be picked up using a stethoscope, although some conditions can be. Hence, why they are often not used to detect a heart problem. I was really angry when I looked back post op as in hindsight I had the classic breathlessness especially when walking. Something I had mentioned to my GP more than once. However, other than that I had no high blood pressure, healthy weight, low chlorestral, fairly fit, yet still had blocked arteries. I think that's what really shocks us patients. You just don't think it's ever going to be you. Also research is showing that women feel heart attacks very differently to men. But no one at the moment knows why. I think like us; doctors don't always recognise the symptoms. So Plonk if I was you I'd be complaining too. I think what got missed in your wife's situation is symptomatic of a 'busy surgery'. Having a HA can be life threatening, but thank goodness you got help when you did and now your wife will get the treatment she needs.


Hi and welcome, I hope your wife will be on the road to recovery soon, it's such a shock when this happens , I agree it's awful that your GP didn't have time to spend to try and listen to your wife particularly when she had been fit and healthy, I would have been raging if they had sent me away, I collapsed in the surgery and I can only blame myself for ignoring all the symptoms and yes I thought I had a virus! But it was heart failure, no difference hmm, feel free to rant any day we all do and we are all here to listen and help if we can, keep us posted take care x


Hi Plonk...further to your necessary rant...

I have this morning found a very interesting post regarding the failure of GPs to refer.

I was unaware of the article referred to, but you may have seen it.

It was posted by O2Trees and she included the link - dailymail.co.uk/health/arti...

...it may add as much oomph to your anger as it did to mine....but it also confirmed the thoughts that I had already, that the GP was deliberately not referring me....but more importantly my question 'why isn't he referring me?'

I believe our GPs need to state whether the referrals in their practice are being stopped because of cost cutting and whether they have to discuss with a panel before referring any patient at all.

Hope all goes well for your wife and also that you get, at the very least, an apology from your GP.


I am new to this site but your wife's experience was very much like my own. I saw my GP with the same symptoms and a family history of heart problems. She sent me directly to a cardiologist who scheduled an angiogram. Although I have never had any health issues, eat a healthy diet and keep active I had to have 3 stents installed in the central artery. Very scary!

You are right to complain to the GP surgery. Family history should dictate immediate investigation. Good luck with your complaint and I do hope your wife gets the care she needs.


Thanks for all the replies but I am finding this whole process very frustrating.

My wife was initially told she would be having the Angiogram last Monay but it didn't happen ,she was then told probably Tuesday but if not definately Wednesday (today) she has now been told Friday so we still do not know what the cause of the heart attack was or what needs to be done. I am worried that the Angiogram will be delayed yet again. The thing is I had a couple of Strokes a few years back and am registered sight impaired and she is my Carer so she is obviously worrying about how I am coping. I no longer drive and to make matters worse the Hospital is a 30 minute drive away. Luckily my children have been brilliant and have been running me backwards and forwards to the hospital but they all work and also live 30 minutes drive away ftom me.

I am hoping the hospital stick to the Friday appointment for the Angiogram and we can find out what needs to be done? I know that my wife is in the best place but a bit more urgrncy by the hospital would certainly make life a bit easier.


That's a really tough situation, sorry to hear it. I agree with Jaycey, you need to be getting some more definitive answers from the hospital so you and your family can plan accordingly. Wishing your wife a speedy recovery.


Do staff at the hospital know about your special circumstances? If not, please do speak up. Ask to speak to the Ward Manager. You should also ask why there has be 2 delays in your wife getting her angiogram. Patients have a right to be kept informed. Sounds like they are not keeping you in the loop!

1 like

Yes they know but it doesn't seem to cut much ice. My wife has had a cannula in her arm for 6 days and the other day asked if it could be taken out as it wasn't being used for any obvious purpose, they said they would leave it in and use it for the Angiogram. This morning they told her they were going to take it out today even though the Angiogram is promised for tomorrow. I have a horrible feeling they will try and discharge her and bring her back as an outpatient for the Angiogram.


Good news, my Wife had the angiogram this morning and they fitted a stent. Looking forward to getting her home.


You may also like...