British Heart Foundation
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Stents and anxiety

Hi all,

I had a major heart attack back in May and a stent inserted in my LAD. This came after a routine visit to my GP showed that my blood pressure and cholesterol was on the high side. I was about 2st overweight too and I told the GP not to worry as I was going to start exercising more - which I did. I started doing 30 mins a day on the cross-trainer at home and started to loose a bit of weight - went back to the GP two weeks later and the BP had dropped so I thought "good, I'm going in the right direction".

A couple of days later I started getting tingling down my right arm towards the end of the exercise and thought I'd tweaked a tendon or something. The tingling would go away after a few hours and I didn't think much of it. But as it kept happening I made an appointment to see my GP the next day... but I never got to go as later that night BANG - the "mother of all heart attacks" as the paramedics called it happened. I blame Question Time and the two Jammy Dodgers I had!

As shocking as it was to experience such a thing at 48 years of age, I wasn't prepared for the mental attacks that followed.

I was feeling pretty good after the operation and was back to work within two weeks (desk job) so I thought I was well on the road to recovery. I went on to loose 2st through healthy eating and thought I was getting my life back to normal... but I couldn't have been more wrong.

I soon started to feel all the twinges and skipped beats etc which I was warned about and the doctors said was normal, but I still found it very unsettling. This brought on severe anxiety attacks which were not too dissimilar to the heart attack itself. What didn't help was the fact that I had always suffered with arrhythmia and supra ventricular tachycardia (SVT or rapid heart beat) all my life and is non life threatening. So when the SVT started happening again after the heart attack it really messed with my head. It was like reliving the whole HA event again.

It took several months to get to grips with things. I went to see a therapist for a while and although talking to someone helped a little, it didn't "cure" me. What I found was that after several SVT events and ambulances called, I started to realise that it wasn't going to provoke another heart attack and I wasn't going to die. I also got used to the skipped beats etc and don't notice them so much now (5 months on).

What I found really helped me was returning to church and reconnecting with God - whom I'd not prayed to for many years. I know not everyone will share my Christian faith but I found great comfort in Him. Praying took all my anxieties away almost immediately. And the whole "life after death" thing was put into a more reassuring perspective too.

What I want to say is hang in there - things do improve. Recovery can be a bit like walking up a down escalator at times, you'll reach the top eventually but you might slide back a bit each time you stop to catch your breath. Find help and comfort where you can, be that on message boards, family, friends or as I did with our Lord and Saviour. If you're finding the mental side of things difficult, please make that prayer and ask Jesus to help you because trust me - He WILL.

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Hi David, thank you for sharing, I'd echo your escalator analogy.

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Hi Dave, im Ste, 32 had a heart attack and 3 VF arrests back in July 2017 totally out of the blue, i was mountain biking down a volcano in tenerife 2 weeks before hand! I had a 95% blockage of the LAD had a stent fitted and was told the rest of my heart was clear and healthy just had 1 bad blockage and that was it, I was fine for the first 3 weeks but since then I've been struggling, it all started with having skipped beats which id never had before and now I'm constantly on edge with everything. I now get skipped/double beats all the time, dizziness, fatigue, tightness in my neck and throat, feel like I can't take a full breath and so on. I've had an MRI and a stress echo both of which have shown I have a great heart pump function 78% EFR and no damage or scarring to my heart. I'm at a loss as to what is wrong with me, can all these issue be down to anxiety? what problems do you have if you dont mind me asking? How are you getting on now? Hope this message find you in good health.

Ste

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Hi Ste,

I’m doing pretty well these days. About to board a flight to Borneo - I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t feel well enough or right in the head.

The anxiety issues have all but gone away now. I put a lot of that down to my renewed faith in God and I pray whenever I get the skipped beats going on and they go away. I know thats not for everybody but it’s worked for me mate.

I’m waiting for an ablation op to sort out my ongoing SVT which I’ve always had but want to get it sorted now since the heart attack as it is a bit unnerving.

I think an adjustment in your meds can also help with the apropos beats etc. Speak to your GP about them. All my side effects went away after a couple of months though I know that’s not the case for everyone.

Give it time buddy and things should settle down. Note, I’ve not actually done any proper exercise since the heart attack. I think I may have to face more issues when I do.

Regards

David

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