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British Heart Foundation
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Emotional stress

Good morning all, last weekend my step mum had a heart attack. She is 58, with no other health conditions. She spent 2 nights in hospital and appears to be recovering well. She is a bit of a trooper so says she is fine, only tired. It's difficult to know. Please bear with me now because I really need help and advice with the next part of my story. Unfortunately and coincidentally this week my sister has shared something distressing with the family. The timing is terrible but she desperately needs the support of our dad. It will be devastating for him to hear and so far we are keeping things to ourselves because we don't want to shock and stress our step mum.

Sometimes life throws a series of horrors your way. We thought our step mum's heart attack was as bad as it could get, and then it got worse.

I don't know what to do. Our dad has to know what has happened with my sister but I think we should wait until our step mum is stronger.

What are the implications when you have to tell someone who has had a heart attack something traumatic?

If you got to the bottom of this post then thank you so much.

I would be grateful to hear from you.

8 Replies

Hello there Jade,

I am so sorry to read of your resent traumas. I myself had a heart attack Sep 2014. I had a bypass 2016.

I have also experienced quite a lot of family and work related stress which started a few months before my heart attack. And it keeps on coming, one thing after the other. I still keep telling myself I will see that light at the end of the tunnel sometime soon.

I think what my point is, is that evan though I am sure the stress has hindered my physical and mental health. I would still rather know what is going on with everyone or everything in my family and personal life,, than not knowing at all.

I think your dad & your stepmum would feel like they have been kept in the dark. Therefore disappointed that you kept whatever this bad news is from them. It would possibly make them feel useless as parents when they feel they should be the strong ones.

Yes it sounds like it really is something authful and would be hard for them to hear. But if they find out later that you kept it from them for too long, evan with your kind caring intentions. Well I think that is what would break them, then indeed cause them evan more stress.

I recon your stepmother and your dad are stronger than you think. As long as you make it clear they have your full support through all this.

Maybe you could have a private word with someone from the cardiac team to seek advice on how you can best approach this sad news with your dad.

I really do feel for you and your family, I know from what you are saying it is going to get tougher before it gets better. But it will get better, as long as you all believe in each other's strength and support each other all the way.

Very best wishes to you, hugs Jo xx


Thank you so much Jo. Seeking advice from the cardiac team is a good idea. I will do that.

I wish that this news were not so, but it is and I cannot help it. I would give anything for a magic wand right now and to make things better for everyone. 😔

1 like

Oh bless you, make sure you seek support for yourself too 😊


Hi Jade,

Sorry to hear of your mounting problems.

What treatment is planned for your stepmom? If she's having a procedure then it may be worth waiting until that's done. The stress of an upcoming operation is high and it might not be a good idea to add to it before it's done. After my HA my head was all over the place for a couple of weeks. I suppose it all depends on how critical it is that she knows and whether she can do anything about it in her current state? If not, then it might be worth giving her a bit of time to get over the initial shock of her heart attack. Jo is right about her having to know but it's a matter of timing.

Perhaps you could just tell your Dad and see what he thinks about telling her? He might be best placed to make that decision.

As Jo has said, the cardiac team should be able to help, and you can always phone the BHF Helpline on 0300 330 3311. They've always been very helpful for me.

Try not to worry. Things will settle.

1 like

Many thanks Marc. I will call the helpline.

I am also thinking of speaking to my dad separately and letting him decide how much my step mum should know. It's dad that that this will affect more anyway. They are very close and she will know something is up with him but perhaps she will put it down to the worry of the heart attack and not question him.

I will find out what her recovery plan is. I'm pretty that are no procedures booked.

Best wishes


I am sorry you are going through so much stress right now Jade.

Perhaps it is worth considering the urgency of your Sisters news when deciding when to tell your Dad and in turn your Stepmum.

If there is nothing they can do immediately to support your Sister then could her news wait a few weeks?

I think the biggest source of stress for some people is knowing that something difficult has occured and there is nothing they can do immediately to help deal with that situation.


Hi Jade.

Believe me everyone on this site has had to face stress and it is never easy. You will get lots of folk giving you advise about what they would do or what they think, but, only you and your family will know what is best. The great thing about this forum is you get to talk to people who know exactly how you are feeling and coping.

So here another one to offer you some words of wisdom! Your dad needs to know the full picture and only he can have decided if your step mum need to know right now. I would say the sooner she is told the better. No one likes to be kept in the dark. You said she is a ‘trooper’ so you may find telling her will take her mind of her own situation. The medical and nursing team are there to help and support you too, so ask for advice.

My partner, of 32 year, has had two cardiac arrests and had a defibrillator fitted, last week he had another ‘event’ which took him back into hospital. I feel at the end of my rope, but we must carry on. You will find once everything is out in the open and everyone know what they are dealing with you will find support from each other.

With my very best wishes. Ron.


First I would make certain that the issue with your Sister is one that is absolutely critical for your Father to be informed about at this point in time. Can it wait? I’m assuming it’s a situation your sister either can’t or won’t discuss or reveal to your father. I’m assuming it’s a matter of life or death and that the issue just occurred.

I think it’s important for everyone to realize not only the stress affects the HA patient but the caregiver as well. My husband had a heart attack and I can say that the stress on the caregiver is horrendous. The unexpected HA turns your world upside down. You take on a new role as caregiver, you too worry about what’s next, how to comfort your loved one and making certain they are getting the medical care and recovery help that they need. In many cases having to hold a job down and in the case of you father, how to run a household.

This is an emotional time for everyone. Make certain that what you tell your Father about your sister is absolutely necessary right now.


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