My healthy, 43 year old husband has j... - British Heart Fou...

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My healthy, 43 year old husband has just had a heart attack. No idea what to expect or what lies ahead?


My husband has just had a heart attack a few days ago. He is very healthy, plays football a few times a week, is not overweight, does not smoke, does not drink excessively and eats well. His cholesterol is very low - our local nurse recently said its the lowest reading she's seen in years in her job. I just don't get why were going through this?!?

He is currently being medicated and monitored and they are giving him and angiogram and any treatment on Monday.

I'm finding that the nurses and doctors can't really tell me much outside of their immediate responsibilities. I've asked questions about recovery time, roughly how long until we're back to normal? will he get back to normal? what does this mean for the future? is he more at risk going forward? what will he be able to do in the next few weeks/months? but they seem to know very little about the next phase of recovery, only about the immediate here and now. I assume that's because there job doesn't really cover the recovery part.

This is why I am reaching out on here, to ask the people who have been through it or are going through it at the moment.

What can you tell me? what can I expect? how can I support him through this?

Thanks you so much in advance, I'm feeling quite lost and in total shock. Any help or advice would be very much appreciated!

40 Replies

I think you will know a lot more once you have the angiogram and any associated surgery. I had a similar situation heart attack over the weekend just before Christmas. I had a stent fitted and was home on the Monday.

Now fully recovered, skiing , walking , climbing etc . The cardiac rehab afterwards is about getting your confidence back. The biggest issue for me was coming to terms with what had happened as I too did not have many risk factors . Family history was mine and one you have not mentioned. It is a big shock for everyone and families can find it very frightening and worry what they should do.

Good luck.

missy81 in reply to seaniz

Thank you so much for your reply. So glad you are now back to full strength, this gives me hope for my husband too. There has been talk about family history, he is having tests as there are some disorders in his family that could cause an early heart attack.

I too was very healthy: I ran 100k a week, don't smoke or drink, don't have any family history of heart problems, but in January I had a heart attack and three cardiac arrests. They don't know why. I think science hasn't got that far yet, to know that sort of thing.

After my heart attack I felt pretty glum and a bit depressed. I wasn't able - or confident enough - to exercise, but over the past few months things are getting better. As seaniz said, see if he can get cardiac rehab. I am finding it really useful for building confidence and being able to share what I am going through with other people who have similar problems and experiences.

I have started exercising again, and I am finding that the old me is beginning to reappear. I am sure things will get better for you and him. Just hang on in there!

missy81 in reply to NineToTheSky

Thank you so much for your reply. Wow, what a shock for you to go through all of that! and when you sound so healthy too. His nurses have told him he will have cardiac rehab, they've been to see him with a few leaflets already, so I'm really glad about that. I would be really scared for him to do anything but if its supported by trained nurses that will give both him and me more confidence. I need to watch out for his mental state I think. He's not a talker about his emotions and he's not the type to tell me if he's feeling down - I'll have to look for clues! Good luck in your continued recovery!

Hi Missy

So sorry to hear about your husband. It’s a scary time for you both especially as it feels so unexpected. So I will try and address some of your queries. They are from my experience as someone who had a heart attack last June. It’s not a replacement for discussion with your health care team. But hopefully will give you some personal insights. The angiogram will give a better picture of the state of the heart which is why the team I suspect don’t want to be too specific at the moment and as you say they are focusing on the present. So the angiogram will tell the team what treatment is required for example a stent. Once that happens your husband will require a period of rehabilitation. The cardiac rehab nurse and team is based in the community and he will be referred on discharge. This is a programme of exercise and lifestyle advice which is provided by experts near to you. The BHF website gives you a great deal of details so check it out. They also have a helpline that you can call for additional advice.

As to how long it takes for recovery. It happens in stages really. It will depend on him and how he feels. The advice in the first 6 weeks is to do things slowly and gradually build up. I live in the North East and was given a manual to work through doing gentle exercise and walking daily. Building up from just a couple of minutes to doing 30 minutes. But he will need to listen to his body and his team ‘s advice. The other part of recovery is the psychological aspect. It’s a shock so I found coming to terms with it challenging! There will be good and bad days and a whole shed load of thoughts and feelings. Fear. Anger. Tearfulness. Even laughter (hysteria!). You ask how you can support him. I would say you need to look after yourself first because you have been through the same shock. Sometimes it’s easier for the person who has the heart attack because we know exactly what we are going through. You are just relying on your emotions and imagination that sounds strange and silly and I don’t mean it to. When I was in hospital my partner looked constantly scared and I was more worried for him. So firstly look after yourself. Talk about your feelings and then you will be able to support your husband. Other ways to help is to find out information so it’s available for you both to look through when he is ready. Maybe be his exercise buddy when he goes out walking. Be there to listen when he needs to talk. Everyone is different in how they deal with things so it will be a matter of taking each day as it comes. I hope this helps in some small way. Do take care of yourself and make sure you have some relaxing and down time. Stay strong. Let us know how he gets on

Best wishes Zena

Ronniesue in reply to Zena166

What a wonderful reply. You sound like a very caring and compassionate lady.

Ketantanna in reply to Ronniesue

I am 52 and suffered a heart attack followed by 3 cardiac arrests just under 3 weeks ago. I have had 3 stents put it and was discharged after 3 nights in Hospital. Like Zena says, it all about managing your and your husbands expectations. I am going out for walks which I am increasing in time whilst I await for rehab appointment. I have good and bad days also and worry with a slightest of a twitch. Good luck.

missy81 in reply to Ketantanna

Wow! what an ordeal for you. It is so worrying isn't it. I think I'll be a nervous wreck when I go back to work and leave him at home. He has moved around a bit more today and it has taken its toll on him, he has said that he now realises he's not going to be able to do what he thought he could and he needs to rest.

Good luck with your continued recovery, here's hoping your rehab appointment comes through soon!

Ronniesue in reply to Ketantanna

Thanks for your feedback. You sound like you have suffered a great deal and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

A wonderful reply. Great advice.

Thank you so much for your lovely reply. I will definitely look on the website for more info and support. I'ts a relief to hear they will give him a manual of things he can do, he keeps saying he'll clean and cook while I'm at work and I keep saying No! the nurses have said you can't even hoover. I'm scared to death he'll take on too much when I'm not there. I'm trying to keep on top of everything house and kids related so he doesn't feel he needs to do anything to help.

I'm beginning to realise I need to look after myself. I am shattered and emotionally numb. I've got lots of support around me but I'm trying to do it all by myself, I think I need to learn to delegate lol. When he is home it should be easier as I'll not need to make trips back and forth to the hospital as well as everything else.

Good shout about the exercise buddy, this is definitely a good idea, it will give us space to talk too, away from the kids.

You guys have all really helped me today with your replies. I don't feel so alone and unsure, it's given me faith that he can get through this and hopefully lead a normal life. Next step angiogram and that should give us a clearer picture.

Thank you so much!

Hi, something caused his attack overtime they’ll find it... I’m sorry you’re going through this. I just had triple by pass due to my kidney failure.. I’m in the gym, Walking miles, yes a problem sleeping every few nights but I’m feeling much better. I’d say the biggest aide to my recovery was my Wife listening to my fears, concerns, complaints, hopes etc.. don’t offer advice.. just be the worlds best cheerleader & listener...

missy81 in reply to MrMusic

Thanks so much for your reply. We should know more after tomorrow and at least then we might be able to get our heads around it a bit more. He's not a big talker about feelings but this may change after this, I think I need to let him know that its ok to talk to me and get it all out if he needs to. Good luck with your continued recovery.

Hi Missy, I was very similar - although I did smoke from 18-30 ( although dr.’s believe that should not have had much effect as i stopped early). So...I played footy, ran the odd half marathon, exercised and ate/eat well - spot on BMI and only slightly raised cholesterol. I had a HA in August and had five stents . The why me? question ( I like to call Keith Richards syndrome - i.e. why me and not him?)is still with me. However there is a strong family history of heart disease, I had also been pushing it at work for several years in a very sedantry job and also had a sudden family bereavement last year; so cumulative reasons I believe for me. However there are plenty of us on here with a similar story and plenty of ex pro footballers too! Graeme Souness, David Ginola etc...

I understand all the questions you are asking, I am still asking them and new ones (there is a lot of reading and research to do if that way inclined) the important thing for your husband now is he is on the road to being treated - he is in the right place. The list of emotions as described by Zena and others are spot on and I have/am still going through that next part of the journey (my counsellor likens it to a bereavement - which for most is a couple of years to really move forward ; but everyone is different). When I was in your husband’s shoes , I was just in shock I think - I kind of just got on with things albeit with a bit of emotion. A good cardio nurse practitioner, a counsellor if you can get one, GP and now private appointment with a cardiologist (some get this as part of their nhs trust- I don’t unfortunately living in the north east) have all been vital parts of my recovery. Rest too - very important. Also , if in doubt when recovering, see someone about it- he may hate the thought of being a burden/ pride/ expectations get in the way.

I’m getting ‘there’ though - i am exercising well again (running 5k comfortably - but just not going hell for leather anymore!) so comfortably exercising again and gaining confidence. I have my down moments, but they are easier to deal with now.

I also have to say this forum has been very good too, it makes things a lot easier when you hear that others are also going through similar issues. He is welcome to contact me if he wants a chat further down the line, I and others on here obviously cannot advise him with any authority on his medical issues - but I can tell him my experience , especially as we sound quite similar.

Lastly, like others have said- look after yourself too - I am similarly lucky to have the support of a great partner (and a 4yr old daughter) but you are the unsung heroes in all of this - do make sure you get your rest too.

Best wishes to you and a speedy recovery for your partner,


missy81 in reply to David-75

Thanks so much for your reply. This forum is great isn't it, in just a few hours I can feel myself relaxing hearing others stories, it gives me hope and also lots to think about around how I can help him and me.

He is feeling very positive at the moment which is good but I will keep an eye on him as I guess you can and will have good days and bad.

Thank you for your offer of support for him, I will share all these posts with him when I am able to.

Good luck with your continued recovery!

I was similar, had a out of hospital cardiac arrest 3 years ago (45 at the time), lucky to be alive if it wasn't for 2 off duty Doctors. My cholesterol at the time was 4.5, now it's 2.89 last reading taking 80mg statins each evening. I've never drank excessively, played regular sport, ate healthy, never smoked. It's most likely a genetic link, even if you Uncle's, Father maybe still alive, if it's cholesterol (clogged artery) then sometimes in certain cases cholesterol can build it very quickly over a number of years, it's pure bad luck in a some cases sounds like your husband. And to replies above, I'm training very hard at the moment for an Ironman which is a 3 mile ocean swim, 120 mile mountain bike ride and a marathon in one day in France in 2 months time. Depending on your situation you can turn things around and be stronger and healthy again, I was running 10km only after 3 months of having my heart attack (blocked LAD), I eat very healthy, rest more, listen to my body, exercise is the key too quick recovery. Exercise will reduce heart disease, it's good for your bones, brain function, muscles, blood system, energy levels and your feel happier......exercise is a daunting task for some of us on this forum, eating healthy alone will help but that's not enough help IMO. I really hope you husband gets well soon, my message is that he will fitter, stronger after this ordeal, it's in the mind...........tell him never give up. Best regards.

Thank you so much for your reply. It sounds like you've been through a lot but have definitely come out of it strong, I'm amazed at the challenge you are taking on! I'd struggle massively with a half marathon, never mind a marathon and the rest! good for you and good luck with it all!

He is feeling very positive, it's made him very focused on his future health. I think he didn't give it too much consideration before, I'm the one who looks for healthy food and recipes and am always trying to make us healthier and he's just gone along with it. I think I'll see that change now and he'll be a lot more part of that going forward, which is great.

I truly believe that we will both be more considerate of our health now going forward. I feel we've always looked after our health but felt its more future proofing for old age rather than the here and now but now we know better!

rouluer in reply to missy81

Thank you and sorry for the late reply, been off my feet at work and training. Yes eat healthy, raw food is the secret, for breakfast I had porridge with blueberries and almond milk, came back from a 5 hour bike ride, shake with oat milk, frozen fruits and mango. Then lunch I had a Spanish Omelette with brown rice, dinner we are having Salmon with sweet potatoes and green as many greens and fruits as you can, foods high in fibre like brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta. I always remember if I'm not preparing food then it's unhealthy. Cook everything yourself stay away from processed foods completely, this is key. Plus after a while you will enjoy the food much more, I can't stand processed or takeaway food now I just feel heavy after and not well, but I do like the odd fish n chips! Take care.

Hi, really sorry to read about your experience, I can't give you any answers, but I can tell you what happened to me and maybe that will help.

I have known that I have atrial fibrillation for over 20 years, but it had never caused me any problems (I only knew about it through training with a heart rate monitor and seeing some very high readings)

I am a keen runner and I had run everyday since Feb first 2013 until the 13th of December 2017 when I had a heart attack at the end of an 18 mile training run. I didn't know it was a heart attack at the the time but knew something wasn't right. When I got to hospital they hooked me up to an ECG and that showed that I was "probably" having / had a heart attack (the peaks and troughs on the print out change when you have had one) they took some blood tests and again they thought I had had a heart attack but it wasn't conclusive I was a bit dehydrated after my 3 hour run.

I spent a couple of days in Peterborough hospital then got sent to Papworth for an angiogram, when they fitted a stent to repair the block in my LAD artery (so it was definitely a heart attack)

I was out of hospital the next day, and back to work on the 28th of December (my choice) and I started running again on January the 1st, very slowly and only for a mile, but it was so good to be back out there.

It's now 123 days since my heart attack, I have run everyday for 105 days in a row, toady I ran 8 miles (got lost in the woods, only wanted to do 7)

They tell me because I was so fit before the attack I would recover quickly, and I have. I take my 7 pills everyday, but apart from that you wouldn't know I had had an attack. Yes I was very lucky, but hopefully it will show that your husband can get back to normal quite soon.

Good luck

missy81 in reply to abathmatt

Thanks for your reply. I'm a bit delayed replying to you as I have been visiting all day and sorting the kids ready for school tomorrow.

Wow you made quite a speedy recovery! Your post has given me hope that he can recover well and relatively quickly. He will be pleased to know that it is possible and doesn't have to necessarily be a long, long process.

I hope you continue to gain your strength and recover well.

abathmatt in reply to missy81

You both have to stay positive, some days that's much easier than others, keep doing everything that is right -exercise, diet etc and SMILE! Trust me it makes a huge difference

Good luck

rouluer in reply to abathmatt

Glad you doing well and fighting fit, yes been fit like you and me can lead a quick progressive recovery, I get the same when people meet me they can't believe I had a heart attack as I look very fit. Keep running and stay healthy.

Sorry to hear of your misfortune,missy81. I have learned from this forum the sheer randomness of coronary problems. Irrespective of age or lifestyle these events can come from left field and ambush you emotionally. Although of pensionable age my issues were largely hereditary but undiagnosed. First I was angry and then concerned. And the rate at which information is revealed seems inordinately slow which is both stressful and frustrating. Hang on in there - there will be clarity and some reduction in concern as you move towards a diagnosis and treatment.

missy81 in reply to IanGordon

Thanks for your reply.

Yeah, info seems to be revealed quite slowly, I'm quite impatient so its a challenge for me. I guess they don't want to give inaccurate info until they know the outcome of tests. Tomorrow should give us some answers I hope, there has been talk about it being hereditary, only time will tell I suppose.

I can relate to your husband however I’m 9 years younger at 34..

Had a stent fitted last November. Before the statins my cholesterol was 3.6. (Its now less than 2) I’ve never smoked, drink very little, no real history of heart disease in the family and do many miles on a bike each year..

Why me....? Who knows, but I’m glad it’s been found early enough and has been treated and I’m aware of it..

My cardiologist says I can do everything I was doing before and he’s right... I’ve been back on my bike for about 3 months and I’m as quick if not quicker up the hills than I was before..

One thing I will say is go to rehab but if your husband is really fit then they might not be geared up to cope with him. For me, they couldn’t get my heart into my target heart rate quick enough unless they really let me go for it on the bike/treadmill.. and when they did my Hr came down really quick...

missy81 in reply to jamin100

Thanks for your reply.

Wow, 34! that's very young. My husband is very positive like you, he's glad they found it early and I think he feels it's been a bit of a wake up call to make sure he's in control of his health. He is healthy already but I think it's made him take it more seriously.

He's definitely going to rehab, I've even found him a cardio club in our area through this website, they do exercise classes a few times a week - it might be too easy for him but I think he's going to give it a go.

I’m so sorry to hear your news and understand your concern and anxiety.

Just over 3 weeks ago I had a heart attack completely unexpectedly. I’m 49 and up until then would have thought that I was a long way from being heart attack material. But I wasn’t.

If it’s any help for your husband I am writing a blog about my feelings and experiences. In part to help me to come to terms with it, but also to try and spread knowledge about this in mine and your husband’s age group. The blog if he would like to look at it is

What I would say 3 weeks in is ask lots of questions and make sure you know what is going on, that really helped us. But also know that only a few weeks on I feel so much better than I did before my attack, both physically and mentally. Far more balanced and aware of my body.

Good luck to you both.


missy81 in reply to GBerserker

Thanks for your reply.

I was reading your blog last night and found it so helpful, please continue to write it, there is so little info out there for this age group.

It's great to hear that already you are feeling better and well after just 3 weeks, this gives me so much hope for my husband.

It's amazing how many relatively fit and healthy, young people are effected by this but there seems to be minimal information for this low risk, young age group. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of replies on this forum and it has given me so much hope and faith that we are going to get through this with a good, positive outcome.

Hello and welcome to the forum.

You have been given some wonderful guidance thus far.

Like your husband, I was fit and healthy marathon runner, running marathon every year around the globe for the last eight years. Always had low blood pressure, low resting heart rate, low cholesterol, no family history, non-smoker, no alcohol abuse, great weight management. Naturally, I asked the same question, where did I go wrong? If you really want to know the full story look at my post, you may find answers to some of your question.

What I learnt thus far that while it may be frustrating at times to live with these conditions but my fitness levels and healthy lifestyle has helped me enormously to overcome these challenges and perhaps assisted greatly make a speedy recovery.

I believe that although we may be facing similar challenges but we do overcome those challenges differently, it’s down to us as individual to manage our conditions as best fit possible. We have the tools/knowledge at our disposal but unfortunately there is no one solution fit us all.

One thing I strongly suggest that when presented do take the rehab option, it was really great for help for me.

what does this mean for the future? Well, unsure anyone can truly answer this question as we set ourselves different objectives but below is an example of what could be achieved.

So in conclusion, you don’t need pay much attention to why him? it’s a history now, am sure you have seen enough evidence to give you a positive outlook going forward.

Best of luck for Monday, do come back and tell us how it did it go?

Thanks you so much for your reply.

It really does help to hear everyone's experiences and their positive outcomes. When I heard the paramedics say they thought he was having a heart attack my whole world just fell apart, everything bad runs through your mind and all you can think is, this can't be happening he is so young! what am I going to tell the kids! how can this end well? but this forum and replies like yours has given me so much faith that this isn't the end of the world, it can get better here on in and we can be happy and healthy after this.

I will certainly check out your post, thank you.

Hi, my husband had a massive heart attack resulting in cardiac arrest at the age of 42. He was on life support for a while & they told me told me there was no hope for him... That was 20 years ago, he's still here!! As they told us at the rehab sessions there is life after an heart attack! Hope your husband continues to improve & stays well xx

missy81 in reply to Lezzers

Thanks for your reply.

It just goes to show they don't always get it right! what an amazing turn around for you both x

I wanted to update you all.

We've had the most amazing news this morning. Only one small artery blocked for which they have inserted a stent. All other arteries look fine. Very little damage to his heart so he should go on to lead a perfectly normal life.

We are so pleased and relieved! The weight that has lifted off my shoulders this morning is just immense.

Thank you so much for all your support through this, you have helped so much. You gave me hope and faith that he would be ok, exactly what I needed :-)

Lezzers in reply to missy81

So very pleased for you both. It’s been a scare but it does make us all appreciate what we have xx

David-75 in reply to missy81

Nice 👍. Great news. No doubt he will be up and running before you know it!. Best wishes to you both.

Zena166 in reply to missy81

Brilliant to hear this news. So pleased for you both. Take care of you both. Best wishes Zena x

Hi Missy81, there is no clear answer to this as everyone is different. I had a cardiac arrest and heart attack 6 months ago age 41, I previously ran marathons and was healthy. I am told the healthier you are before helps with the recovery. I took 6 weeks from work and the aftercare was amazing. You are right, the current nurses etc. Can Andy answers your immediate questions, I was sent to cardiac rehabilitation after my stents were fitted and they were amazin to my and my partner and explained everything. I am now walking 3-4 miles a day before work and feeling great. I think the thing to remember is that you know about it and something can be done to make it better, he will then be more healthier than ever with the right care. As for what to say to him..... listen to him, and support his decisions and remind him now and then that you are also going through this xx

Hi all,

So we're almost 3 months in.

My husband is doing so well. The first few weeks were a massive wake up call for him, he really thought he could just slot back into life like nothing had happened, yet his body had other ideas! The first few weeks took their toll. Short walks and short distances felt like massive mountains to climb yet fairly quickly these were overcome and longer walks took their place.

We are walking every night, alternating between 30 mins and 1 hour, more at weekends. Not only has this enabled me to be his 'fitness buddy' but it has also given us the space to talk, support each other and solidify our relationship even further.

We are now at a stage that we are introducing running into our routine.

In the early days he needed to take things easy and needed regular afternoon naps but as the weeks progressed he has taken on more and more jobs around the house, increasing his stamina.

He has recently returned to work on a phased return and so far this is going well.

The docs are supremely confident that he will lead a full life and this 'blip' will help and protect him in later life as he is now on so many preventative drugs.

Our outlook is different, we care more about our health than we have ever before but also about our enjoyment of life, you really don't know what is around the corner and need to enjoy every moment!

I still can't believe that it has happened, and so too can't our friends and family yet I feel this has had a silver lining for all....a wake up call if you like.

As it stands life is good, onwards and upwards, happy and healthy!

I want to thank each and everyone of you that have supported me, and us, in this journey. I felt so lost and alone on that first day and your support has meant so much.

For anyone experiencing this now, please know that it is not the end of the world, in fact, in many ways this can make your life so much better. Hang on in there, you can get through this :-)


I had my heart attack last year in September and took me 2 weeks to recover from having a sent implanted. It's down to the individual. I felt nervous all time and was always told to rest but felt I could do much more. Best thing to do is be mindful of him and keep listening.

Hope it all goes well for him and yourself.

Really sorry to hear about your husbands heart attack. Have brought this subject up on another post. I know how frustrating it is for you as all my tests came back normal and I was told told it was muscular. However I eventually had a minor heart attack which saved my life because they found I needed a bypass! They attributed it to smoking which I gave up forty years ago and also hereditary. I still think stress plays a big part however and much more research is needed. Well the pain has gone now and I’m back on the tennis court after 8 months of recovery,. The angiogram result will tell you a great deal. I’m 77 years old

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