British Heart Foundation

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I’m new to this community and was recommended it by the BHF. I was recently diagnosed with CAD in 2 main arteries - the LAD and left circumflex.

I’m 48 and married with 2 children. I am fairly fit, eat healthy and cholesterol is above average but not considered too high. I went to see my GP because of the odd chest pain twinges I was getting. Both my parents have heart disease and both have had heart attacks and procedures. A grandparent on either side also had heart disease so given my history my GP referred me and I too have inherited the gene.

My problem is I have a major fear of hospitals. Invasive surgery is a definite no. I just about managed a CT angiogram but when my heart rate went up and they couldn’t insert the dye and more meds were needed I was out of there and left my husband in the waiting room.

It’s not that I don’t want it but I become 2 people and my heart says don’t be silly it’s for the best but my head says get out of here now and I’m out the door and in the car park within minutes of that fear kicking in. All stems from having my daughter and nearly dying. I can re- live every second of it and that was 26 years ago.

The CT angiogram showed high levels of plaque in my arteries and given my age I have been told I’m high risk for heart attack or stroke. I have been put on 40mg statin, 75mg aspirin and now been told I need beta blockers. I am booked in for an angiogram +\- angioplasty next month and can think of nothing else. My daily life has become a blur and right now I don’t think I can have it done. Like I said it’s not that I don’t want it done but my fears are so great I don’t think i will be able to go through with it.

10 Replies

I feel the same wen u need a heart op but I’m like well it’s needed and I have God on my side!!!

I know it's really hard not to worry, but surely an operation is preferable to the alternative! Your children need you to be strong. I was extremely anxious when first diagnosed, but eventually came to terms with it. My op is behind me now and I'm so grateful to the surgeon and NHS staff for giving me a new lease of life to watch my grandchildren grow up. It really wasn't as bad as you imagine. People on this forum are extremely comforting and have lots of experience of heart matters. Talking about your fears will help I'm sure. Keep in touch and best of luck. X

Hi Lou1969...firstly, welcome to the site. I am sorry to hear of your heart problems, and like you, I have a family history of chd. I have three arteries compromised and have angina, and take quite a cocktail of drugs. I totally get your panic attacks, well that's what I call mine. Luckily mine are nothing to do with hospitals, procedures, mine are brought on by social gatherings. All I want to do is remove myself from the situation, I feel very faint and have fainted once trying to retreat. However, this is not about me..have you spoken to anyone about this? I'm sure your doctor will be able to help you as these procedures you are due, should not be put off. Your young and you need to be getting on with your life, not worrying about what's to come. I have help from my doctor, support from my family and I also am waiting for counciling which has helped me in the past. None of this is a magic cure, but they give you the tools to help deal with the feelings. Also, it might be a good idea to speak to the hospital prior to the appointment, as I'm sure there are many people in a similar situation and they may be able to sedate you enough for you to relax and get these really necessary procedures done. Try and find the courage to sort this problem, your strong and you can do it! Good luck x

Hi Lou. Like you I had a big dislike of Hospitals, needles and other stuff that I had no control over. My angiogram scared the life out of me and that was with THREE sedatives. I went on to have a quadruple bypass and as a result cured my fear of hospitals/needles. I had to think long and hard on the eve of my op and even after waving my son off after he had took me in I found myself sitting on the wall outside asking myself "what are my options?" There were no options. I went back inside and had the op next day. every day since has been better than the last. You will find the strength to go through with it I'm sure. Good luck


ps, I did a little blog when I went through it all if it helps philsquadruplebypass.wordpr...

Hidden in reply to Phil-52

Thanks Phil, when I had my daughter 26 years ago I nearly died. The hospital made so many errors. I can relive it today from start to finish. I had a CT angiogram a few weeks ago, I plucked up the courage and all was fine until one nurse forgot to take of the lid off the tube to feed the dye, another couldn’t get the sticky pads to stick as they hadn’t removed the bottom of the pad and the doctor sprayed outside of my cheek instead of under my tongue. This was enough to grow 6 pairs of legs and run.

I have since seen a consultant and am fully aware of the consequences. People keep telling me it will be fine but they haven’t lived in my shoes and experienced what I have been through so for now it’s meds and hope for the best. Will read your blog though, thanks for sharing!!

Phil-52 in reply to Hidden

Take Care Lou

Barbdevlin in reply to Phil-52

Hi Phil I just had a wee read at your bypass blog and I must say I found it quite reassurung prob because it felt almost like talking to you, expressing your views in layman terms rather than medical ones. Like most people I am pretty terrified of going through with such traumatic procedure and never having been in hospital before I have the added fear of the unknown. Hopefully all will go well and I am already planning on keeping a journal so I can look back and see the little steps that lead me back to better health

Phil-52 in reply to Barbdevlin

Hi Barb. There is not much anyone can say to rid you of the worries of the op. It all keeps revolving around inside your own head until it's over. I think two pieces of advice might help though. first, Just trust the Doctors completely.do what they tell you and you will recover quickly. They really are second to none. Second ; each day of recovery is better than the last. I still can't believe I am better than ten years ago.

Good luck and here's to a future of fitness and fun


Hi Lou....I also suffer the phobias - aichmophobia(fear of hyperdermic needles), nosocomephobia(fear of hospitals) and tomophobia(fear of surgical operations)(taken as my forum name!).

The good side (and the strength of) of these phobias made my lifestyle over the years as healthy as I could possibly make it - nothing would put me in hospital if I could help it!

Yes, my second pregnancy meant a hospital stay which my memory has retained - but not anything like your experience, and I am so so sorry that this has happened to you.

Nearly two and a half years ago, one of my worst nightmares began - feeling beyond unwell I gave in and visited GP to be diagnosed with heart problems which gradually deteriorated. My body - probably from so many years of not taking any medication - did not tolerate the medication, with awful side effects adding to illness.

My phobias made life difficult to say the least, not just for me but for the people who were trying to care for me! Early days I was so frightened! I didnt want to die, but phobias put such a different slant on things, as you well know. I was torn between the 'devil and the deep blue sea' and almost robotically appeared to to put up with and do everything that the medical people wanted. The will to live is actually stronger than the phobia, but does not lessen the irrational fear.

I desperately searched in my panic for anything alternative - I read everything I could, even making myself sick by unwittingly catching sight of photographs of the heart and the procedures. But what came also during all this research, were other peoples experiences and advice, and along with knowledge of what actually happens, I found I needed to ask so many more questions.

It meant I had the courage to calmly say 'please use the smallest needle to take my bloods' and 'no, I am sorry, but you hurt and bruised me when you took bloods, I require someone else'. Surprised, this was actually respected. We are vulnerable in hospital, but remember, we place ourselves in their care but do not give up our right to be treated with respect.

The cardiology team I had were and are brilliant. From the cardiologist secretary, the RGNs, the anaesthetists, the assistant cardiologists to the specialist cardiologist surgeons themselves, they were the people who made the difference - they listened, they understood, they found and offered different ways round doing things in order to get me to go into hospital and theatre. They worked hard to gain my trust.

So much so, in talking with the EP Cardiologist who was about to fit my CRT-D in the few minutes before being wheeled into theatre, I leapt up and said NO, I am not having it done! This was the split second I realised that I was having a local and not a general anaesthetic. He was just so brilliant. He fetched a phone for me to talk with my daughter, got nurses to sit and comfort me while he found an anaesthetist (luckily for me, same one as previous) and then made sure I was calm enough and happy to go ahead. Nothing was too much trouble.

This is the crucial factor - trust in your surgeon. He needs your trust and will work to get this. And Cardiologists are a totally different 'kettle of fish', they are passionate about their profession, it is a chosen career path that they have taken many many years to achieve.They are specialists like no other. Ask questions, no matter how trivial you think they appear; tell him your fears, and be very descriptive. Speak with the anaesthetist too. Again, these are specialists. Tell him your phobia. He also wants and needs a patient that is trusting and as calm as he can possibly make you feel.

Look up the hospital and cardiologists online, as you can choose which hospital you want the procedure to be carried out.

For me since diagnosis - many blue light rides to hospital made me accept it was serious. Unable to not be aware of my fears, the cardiology team assured me a cardioversion(electric shock to heart) may resolve the initial issues. This was where I met the anaesthetist. I refused a cannula in the usual back of hand place, so he assured me thats fine. He explained that it may be less uncomfortable in the vein at the base of thumb, side of wrist. This was absolutely so right! He padded each side and taped in place I was also visually not aware of it. Calmer patient!

Yes, I was still urgently keen to be discharged from hospital as soon as possible, but as they were aware of my phobias I have had no problem.

I have over the past year had a cardioversion, the Hybrid Ablation, which was 2 separate procedures 6 months apart, which included a 3 week stay in hospital to drain my body of excess fluid that the heart was not pumping out (I was not confined to bed or ward, which helped make this doable), and a CRT-D device fitted at the end of August. It was the cardiology team's clear understanding and excellent encouragement that allowed me to place my trust in them, and the reason I am alive today.

My phobias are still with me, but if I have to go in again, as much as I am certain I will refuse, I know deep down that I will - the cardiology team did this for my phobias!. I will continue to be what is known as a 'difficult' patient, but becoming part of the decisions is the only way I can do it, as all the above shows.

one day at a time Lou...do not fear becoming a 'difficult' patient. There are many of us and we cannot change this without the help of those we fear.

Heart disease is a physical thing. Cardiologists and the team can repair that. YOUR fear and phobia is acknowledged and YOU are not the only to have such worries but its something only YOU can deal with . First YOU have to find a therapist . I suggest CBT therapy is good for you. Then YOU have to go and YOU be honest with the therapist. Then YOU have to be pleased YOU have done that .Then YOU have to use that and get yourself to the cardiologist and YOU are now in charge of getting yourself in a position to get back to good health. Good Luck with your journey.

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