British Heart Foundation
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Living in a pressure cooker

My partner was diagnosed with heart disease in October of last year he has a date for his angiogram at the end of the month. He is 44 and has suffered with anxiety since his early 20’s and has gone through a series of CBT therapies in the past. When he was first diagnosed his mood changed immediately having lost his wife to cancer he is terrified that he will orphan his children and very angry that after everything he has gone through this is happening to him - he has always lived a healthy lifestyle is very active infact two years ago he ran 13 half marathons to raise money for the hospice who took care of his late wife. Things eventually settled down into some relative normality but now the date of his operation is drawing near the anxiety has returned with a vengeance. It is so scary to watch him jumping out of bed all night terrified that he is having a heart attack. Every time he gets indigestion he thinks it’s the onset of a heart attack. I know it sounds selfish but I’m so incredibly scared I don’t know how I am going to handle watching him go into theatre not knowing what they are going to do and if I will see him again. I feel totally helpless and incapable of supporting him as the date draws near in becoming more and more scared myself. Would really appreciate some advice from anyone who has experienced similar problems I feel like our family unit has broken and I don’t know who to hold it all together. Thank you

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Hi there,

It must be a truly terrible time for all of you. Firstly let me try and ease your worries over the angiogram, there is a paper from the BHF here, bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-ma... It wopuld seem your partner has some narrowing of the arteries, the angiogram will see these and if its possible they will stent these arteries at the same time. This procedure, while it does carry a small risk, is performed 100's of times daily within the UK. It should be painless, a local anesthetic, either wrist or groin. At mine I was invited to watch the camera progress (I declined!), mine was very relaxed, lots of nurses and the specialist around to ask questions of before and after. I would suggest you ask, he asks everything you can think of, even write questions down, they are very informative and happy to answer questions.

The anger issue, well I think i speak for a lot here, we go through a full range of emotions, usually all of them in a minute, anger, depression, giddy highs and lows. Its normal, for him and for you, its a shock, a major shock that its happened at all, the 'why me' questions, the mortality questions. Its really difficult, very tough on everyone involved. There is help available, from cardiac rehab classes post any stenting or other treatment, speak and get to know your GP, see whats available to you locally. On here, many members have their own experiences, we listen, we love a rant and a rave, we love success stories and we love the bad stories. Many will also relay their own counselling stories as well. There is alos the BHF helpline, open 9-5 Monday to Friday 0300 330 3311. You are not alone, let us know how you get on,

take care, best of luck Mark

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I am awaiting a quadruple bypass. Even thought CVD has accounted for all the men in my father's side of the family the diagnosis came as a shock as BP and cholesterol have never been elevated. In the end he has to realise that it has been detected and will be appropriately treated - obviously they have decided he is at no immediate risk. One thing he needs to do is talk with his GP and the cardiac team. He should definitely ignore Dr Google and FaceAche as they generate total rubbish at times. One idiot claimed they had open heart surgery and was back driving and at work within seven days, and never needed anything stronger than an a paracetamol. Why anyone wants to put this dribble online I do not know! Good luck with it all!

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Haha that did make me laugh. Good luck with your quad

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One person on FB suggested to my girlfriend it could be performed by keyhole surgery. I suggested letterbox would be more appropriate.

One cardiologist told me there is one specific artery that can sort of be done this way but if other arteries are involved no way. The single artery procedure still involves cutting a rib!

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Yes indeed it is, as that is what I had😊

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How did you know you had a problem and how was it detected? I've recently had diagnosis of high BP, and am worried i may have other issues as a result? Also have CVD family history - all males on fathers side taken out too. Worried!

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For me there was no BP or cholesterol issue but an appalling family history. At the start of last year I was walking up a steep slope when I got breathless, started coughing and got chest pains. As I had been struggling to shake off a chest infection for weeks I put it down to this. However, the breathlessness and chest pain reoccurred a month later and I went to the GP. The outcome was a quadruple bypass this June. I walked up the same slope nonstop two weeks ago with no issues and thought RESULT! However, still a way to go before full fitness...

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Thanks MichaelJH, much appreciated and i hope you continue to improve. I have an awful family history too - watched my dad die in front of me when he was 38 and i was 10. Swore it would never happen to me and that is why i keep so fit. But the high BP has still found me.

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It's tough to be a cardiac patient and it's pretty tough to be the partner of a cardiac patient. I've been exactly where you are. My husband had an angiogram and a very urgent triple bypass last year. The angiogram itself is not too tough and the patient receives sedation. Whatever the results, the staff will help and support you through. They were really kind to me. But you do have to consciously decide that you're going to stay strong!

And you do need to look after yourself and get some support from your GP and /or counselling, if necessary. Also, remember that whatever the outcome of the angiogram, we are unbelievably fortunate to have world class cardiac treatment in this country. Procedures that are scary for us are perfectly routine for them.

Btw 4 months on, my husband is fitter and healthier than he's been for years!

I hope that helps you a bit!

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The Angio itself is a wee bit uncomfortable, but nothing at all really. The strange surroundings, and circumstance more than distract you. Everything else should hopefully be straight forward, and the team will have a better understanding of what's going on. In fact it'll be a worse time being dressed in the silly looking gown waiting to go to the cath lab 😜

(One angiogramme, one stent fitted, one angioplasty, to check on stent)

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..... and the paper pants!

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Wrist (twice) not groin. I wasn't even gonna go there 😉

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Hi I'm so sorry he is going through this and for you too it's not easy. Firstly the angiogram isn't anything to worry about , I watched mine the whole way through. The worst part was when I could see a blocking in artery. I think it depends how severe the narrowing is if they Stent or treat with drugs. I'm being treated with drugs at the moment although I have 89% narrowing of Lad. I went through a year yes a year of worrying I was going to die or have heart attack any Minute . Every ache I went into stress mode but you can get passed this I think of all the positives in my life and that I don't want to waste my time here worrying about what could happen if it does happen well it was out of my hands but it may never happen so need to enjoy your life now enjoy family friends ect. I know it's hard when you have young children . I am sure he will soon be sorted out with stent or meds then can get on and live the rest of his life . Good luck to you both xx

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Ops it's 80% not 89% slip of the finger

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I remember wen my Gdad had a op wen I was a teen I got together wiv some close freind sand opened up wiv them.

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So sorry to hear of you and your partner's problems. I too have suffered with anxiety since my early 20's and I'm now in my late 60's and still have my moments. What he's feeling is extremely common, not that this makes it easier for you, sometimes it's harder on the ones who are caring for the patient. In my case, I was diagnosed with angina a couple of years ago, out of the blue as I had been having treatment for your spine problems which turned out to be my heart and not my spine which was causing the pain. I was so angry, sad and scared as I had watched my father and his brothers all die from heart related issues, in my father's case culminating in a sudden but fatal heart attack. I thought.. That's it, I'm going to die of a heart attack and leave my son's, their wives and my three grandchildren. I live alone, except for my beloved dog, so it was hard waiting for the angiogram. The angiogram itself was really ok, in fact I watched what was going on, in the end it was agreed, Although three arteries were narrowed, that for now,I would be treated with drugs, so the stents I was expecting didn't happen. As I say, that was two years ago, and it's taken a while but I know consider myself lucky as I'm being monitored and on drugs to keep me going. So what he is feeling will improve but it wouldn't hurt to talk to your gp who is used to dealing with this reaction. I hope all goes well, I'll keep everything crossed for you both.. Keep posting updates x

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