British Heart Foundation
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heart attack at 38

Hi my name is douglas 38 years old had a heart attack 27th jan still trying to come to terms what has happened to me i often have panic attacks thinking something is going to happen to me feel very low most days got to wait 14 weeks to i see someone though spoke to cardios doctors and been told waiting for a physiologist to see me i have had a angioplasty and was told i needed 2 stents put in which iam also very anxious about i had very high cholesterol and was a 30 a day smoker now i dont smoke and petrified what i eat incase something happens i have kids and try to look on the bright side of life but its very hard my wife works kids at school iam not allowed back to work just now as doctor and cardio say to much i dont even like leaving the house for long periods constantly think its happen again sorry for going on

17 Replies

Hello Douglas

You are not alone. People on this site will have been through what you are going through now and they will do there level best to help you through this.

First things first, fantastic that you have cut out the smoking, keep it up. Next food, don’t starve yourself but do start to change your diet - you know the score, more fruit and veg cut out the fried stuff (use a grill instead), cut down the sugar. Lose weight if you have it to lose. I’m assuming you are on a statin - that will take care of your cholesterol level but it helps if you do your bit too.

Exercise is important both physically and mentally - a brisk walk 3 or 4 times a week for about 30 minutes is great but work up gradually.

Anxiety and depression come with the territory, unfortunately. Make sure you talk to people Friends, wife etc., do not bottle things up, it’s bad for you! Try to get to see a counsellor (you GP maybe able to help) - talking therapies work.

This event is not the end. Your life might be a bit different but you should be able to lead a full and active life - just read some of the posts here and you will see what I mean.

Good luck. If you have any questions, don’t hold back, just post it here. You’ll be surprised how many people are out there waiting to help



thank you very much for your reply yeah dont smoke at all now not worth the risk alot of it in my head what if this that the next and my age but hope to speak to someone soon glad i came across this site and thanks for your advice steve

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Yes Steve talks wise words.

I have said this to one of our friends on here before. I know that the age factor is a shock for you, but heart issues in all ages are more common than you would think.

The fact is, many if us have probs had issues long before we are actually aware of them.

I also believe some people have had heart attacks without evan knowing about it until a much later date.

I believe they only find out if they have had a heart attack when they have another more server heart attack.

So when it is diagnosed, the medical professionals think any scar tissue that is now showing, is the first time there is any damage to the heart muscle.

So the fact that you and many other people under forty who have had their heart attack or other heart issues show up at your young age, can only be a good thing.

Sounds stupid I know, but it means you are on the radar now, therefore being treated pretty much straight away.

Less chances of causing any further damage to the heart muscle.

It sounds like you are making some great lifestyle changes, therefore helping your heart to be strong again.

Be possitive, because your future will get better. Heart attacks that get diagnosed then treated have good prognosis of getting back to, if not better than it was before the heart attack, long before the attack.

Many patients say when treatment is over and meds have finally balanced out. They feel better than they have felt for years.

Soon when things are sorted, you'll be able to keep up with most things the kids can do.

While you are waiting and you are off of work. Keep your brain occupied and stimulated.

Mind games, sketching, painting, writing, singing is good for the lungs. Maybe a relaxation class such as Tai chi or yoga. Maybe join a local club of some sort.

Just try to find things that arn't too physical at the moment until you talk to you Gp next.

Like Steve said though, walking little and often. It helps to build new cells, therefore helps your curculation.

Rest is important, however, you have to get the balance right. Like I said before, keep busy little but often. Evan if it's getting up when watching a tv programme in the adverts. Then walk around the room until the programme comes back on.

Get up and make a cuppa, make dinner the kids lunch for school etc.

The important thing is not to dwell on what has happened. Take control of this new situation and give yourself the bright future you and your family deserve.

Just one last thing, be patient with your family and friends. This is as new and scary to them as it is for you.

They may not always know what to say or do without thinking they may upset you, which can be like walking on eggshells.

They also need assurance and strength from you, as you do from them.

Work together, talk a lot, listen more. Main thing, be supportive to eachother.

Chin up, stand tall, keep smiling, you'll get there. Believe me, you'll get there. You'll all be happy again soon.

Sending very best wishes, Jo 😊😊 😊


Thanks for the reply and advice I just felt right you have had your heart attack home now wait for this wait for that nobody speaks to me my doc just acts like it nothing spoke to a nurse about rehab but don't even have a date for that I have tried the adult colouring books and does help glad I have found this group though

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Hi Douglas

I echo all that Jo and Steve have said. You are going through a period of ‘bereavement ‘. Mourning what you had. However whilst you cannot change the past you can absolutely control the future. Those of us with heart disease and under the care of the cardiac team know exactly the state that our heart is in. Which is brilliant as most people have no idea. Jo is right many do not and hence don’t have the right care. Brilliant to give up smoking. Again eat healthy and gentle exercise whilst waiting for the stents. BHF have got some great information that you can access online. You may want to speak to one of their nurses at their helpline to see if they can offer advice as well. Other places are your local leisure centres for help with exercise classes or council sites as they may have health and well-being teams. Have you been referred to the local cardiac rehab team whilst you are waiting? If so speak to them. Also BHF have some local patients groups there maybe one in your area. Again they are found on their website. Steve mentioned talking therapies. It’s a service that usually assesses you in a couple of days so maybe worth contacting them whilst waiting for a counsellor. Do take care of yourself. We have all been in this state of shock some of us still are. But we can control our future and adapt to a more healthy way of life



Thanks very much for reply that's interesting what you said there yeah gave up smoking not a big drinker so don't do that I just need to control my anxiety comes out of nowhere me thinking this or that hopefully I will get a date from hospital soon and my stents in and my rehab begins soon

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Hi Douglas.... as per the previous comments we all understand your current worries and fears. Please however take comfort and strength in that there is life after a HA and a good quality one too.

Well done for giving up smoking! That is really brilliant and will definitely make a difference.

You mention your age...i suffered a HA at the age of 32 and felt so like you ate feeling now. However after many tests and putting me on medication I was able to resume my career... as well as bring up my son on my own

I am now 56 and still working full time. My advice would be listen to your doctors.... eat healthily.... lots of chicken and fish and veg and salads. Do avoid salt and pre packed meals ( they tend to contain lots of salt) but you must keep eating ad you need your strength to help your heart at this time.

Lots of great advice about exercising.. the weather is starting to brighten up it's a good time to have a small walk to a local shop.... it if you are too nervous or no shops near... do a few circles around your garden. In the fresh air and getting some exercise too.

Again it's important to occupy yourself and focus on positives.

This condition has been found and so they can now help your heart. You are also aware.. . And so are making lifestyle changes which are great.

One other area you haven't mentioned is alcohol and caffeine... both are not good for the heart. Tea is not as bad as coffee... so start to limit your caffeine intake ( 3 or 4 a day I was told.) And don't get decaff as I did... apparently that's worse for the heart. So squash or water is healthy with the occasional cuppa. Alcohol is bad for the heart so at this time see if you can cut this out ( if you do drink)

All of these focus changes will help you feel a bit more in control of it... rather than it be in control of you.

Also when seeing the consultant ask about rehab.. .. they will organise a local place for you to get your exercise and fitness back ( we all worry about doing too much so kinda stop any exercise) the rehab helps you grow in confidence about what you can do in a controlled environment ... with a weekly walk scheduler.... which will defo Italy help you to move forward and feel you can do more and build your confidence.

And remember we as a community are here for you too 😀.



Thanks for the reply I don't drink alcohol at all really coffee yes and I did opposite I thought decaffe would of been better but will change back to the normal stuff used to drink maybe 8 cups a day now 3 at most glad I found this group as I thought that's it my life is going to be rubbish now can't do this can't do that but after reading stories of other people has opened my eyes thanks again


Hi there, I hope you don’t mind but I just caught a bit of your post that caught my eye...when replying to Doug (which I have done off the forum by mistake- d’oh). what’s this about decaf? I have swapped to it too- used to have an expresso to start the day but thought with the meds to probably best switch to decaf- apparently not a good idea?


Hi David.... I thought the same thing and got decaf tea and coffee. My GP went mad and said the chemicals they put into decaf are worse than caffeine for your heart and told me to come off decaf immediately! That's all I know.

He also told me that 2 or 3 cups of tea a day would be ok but no more... and that there was no goodness at all in coffee. That told me 😁

Definitely worth checking with your GP see what they say... as your condition may be different to mine ... but I threw away the decaf ( I do have a sneaky mild coffee every now and again) and try to stick to the 2 or 3 cups a day milarky



Hi Douglas, sorry to hear what has happened and how you fell.

I have tried to add few points to the other useful posts here. These are purely from my experience but everyone is different and you may find that something else works better for you.

I am 43 and have been diabetic for 37 years with the family (2 children).

I had an event last April. My doctor said it was a “warning” (nstemi). I don’t think I had a pain in my chest as I mainly felt like trapped nerve sensation in my biceps which then moved below my neck at which point I went to hospital. Had two stents (as it was explained to me one in one artery and one is smaller vain). I was allowed to be at work and drive after one week.

Before the event I was playing football etc. but did have 2-5 cigarettes on (Fri and Sat only though) and was drinking about 20 unites a week. I always suffered from anxiety and stress level at work used to be very high.

Heart matters and anxiety, depression go together and I am also seeing a therapist and will soon start to see psychiatrist too.

I still have a fear of something bad happening every day. I try to apply the reason and not to let emotions take over. Take a deep breath and relax (believe me it can be done). Concentrate on “here and now”, focus on birds, your feet, what’s the air like (cold/work). It is good to speak to someone and it is good to talk not only to professional but other people if you feel it may help. I do not know if you have private or company insurance but, if you do, you might be covered for many treatments which may help and you can be advised about those by professionals.

What worked for me was that I kept asking questions of what I can do/ what adjustment to make and question if I thought I did not understand something (even though I was really down for very long period of time).I was extremely persistent.

I was/am lucky that I am under a good care and, after the stents, I had a very good rehab and returned, gradually, to playing competitive football for veterans’ team (4 months after the event). I still worry before and after the game but I follow my rehab team’s instructions which gives me comfort and assurance. I know for a fact that people after heart attacks did marathon etc.

What I am trying to say is that this is not the end and while the anxiety and “fear” may be there but it can be controlled and it will not rule your life. Hope this helps and try to stay positive.

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Thank you for replying your advice is very good to me I think once I have been seen by somone it will hopefully ease just trying to get my head round the whole thing




Hi ,

I had a heart attack at 40 and everything you have mentioned was the way I felt for a long time . I worried about not seeing my girls grow up which upset daily . I received 2 stents which unfortunately closed over which is pretty rare . I had a double heart bypass which they thought would be the end of my problems but wasn't in my case they done the op with arteries from my chest which I later I had a genetic issue . So after 3 more stents ended up with another bypass this time hopefully it's worked . I'm nearly 2 years post op. Back at work full time have been for the last 6 months the whole mental element was and still is the hard bit . Try and be positive and live every day like it's your last it helps . I wish you the best but things do get better .

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Thanks for the reply yeah just trying to get my head round it all and these anxiety attacks which I never used to get before what happened just wish my appointment would hurry up


Hi I had a heart attack whilst playing golf and had 4 stents fitted. I left hospital after 5 days recovery went through 8 week cardio Rehab and then a 3 month GP referral scheme at the local gym. Upon leaving hospital my surgeon advise the following - no bacon, no sausage, no salt and no sugar.

I have now lost 4 stone in weight and feel as fit as a fiddle. It doesn't mean that you have to cut everything from your diet, just control it. Your confidence will return and you can start enjoying life again.


Thanks for that I finally get my stents fitted tomorrow hope your keeping well


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