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British Heart Foundation
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Anxiety attacks worrying about heart failure

I am having great difficulty accepting i have heart failure,AF and Icd implanted. Keep having bad anxiety attacks. Any help out there

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At the ripe old age of 20, I had an eye test and was prescribed glasses - all whilst serving in the Royal Navy. I felt so miserable and shocked that this was the slippery slope of getting old! Since then and a further 45 years on, I have had to endure many more moments just like that! The difference now is that I see these moments as challenges to my fortitude, determination and quite frankly, my love of life and of my wife, whom I would hate to leave. I went into hospital after a mild heart attack and came out three weeks later after a triple heart bypass - but I was alive whereas many people were not as lucky as I am. I am now looking forward to my first Christmas and my first birthday (17th) and plan to visit the hospital on that day to thank everyone for looking after me, for caring for me and seeing something in me that showed them I had determination. After what we have all gone through, all we have is faith in our god and ourselves. Many people could get the prognosis and just give up. We have all seen those who will not exercise, will not loose weight, will not take their medications and if something goes wrong, who will they blame - well it wont be themselves will it? We have been given a great gift which we must nurture and cajole and encourage to remain with us forever - the gift of life! I understand anxiety and depression - now learn from them and grow stronger and learn how to live your life to the full - with the restraints we all have to live with, in the knowledge that it could have been a whole lot worse. If you can get the time, please read a poem by Rudyard Kipling entitled "IF". It has been something I have grown up with since first seeing it as a young man whilst undergoing initial training in the RN and which I find much strength in. Have faith in yourself and the inner strength you have and begin to love life again with everything you hold dear to you. What will be will be, however if you give it your best, the heart team will never let you down - just don't let them down and look after their investment in your health. It took them a life times training to be able to give you the gift of another chance - all you have to do is to look after it. Good luck!

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Thanks for taking the time to write this! I have anxiety following a mild MI and it certainly made me think.

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Hi I also have dreadful anxiety after ICD shock. That was a beautiful reply however it’s very painful and so very difficult when for the first time ever you find it difficult just to get dressed and step out the door.

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Please read the reply I made to malcolmwilliams - it might help

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Hi it’s just so hard to see when you are really suffering. It’s hard to find that determination to save yourself. Because I know it has to come from you. My achievement today is I havnt cried. But I’m so impatient and that just makes me fall out with myself!!

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Thanks for that. I went from swimming a mile or so every other day to not being able to walk a mile.Not the heart but anxiety. Cardio rehab has been the best! and time as well as support from my wife to be. Now back to swimming 1/2 mile every other day. For me a heart attack was a sign to completely change my life (for the better) Not everyone gets a second chance, My cousin died last month of a brain haemorrhage at 37, hardly drank much and never smoked.

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Thanks for your reply as it has given me food for thought. Just going through a rough patch

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We all get down for heart disease is not your "normal" illness or body defect, although it is really a common one! You are streets ahead of some folk who suffer depression or anxiety because you have been able to identify the problem and therefore will be able to deal with it. A small hint here - don't be a warrior or even a worrier on your own - tell your significant other. If you had a broken leg everyone could react accordingly so you do need to disclose this very real illness and if it does not go away, you must discuss the issue with your doctor - don't be concerned, it is quite natural and it proves your heart is working, for the only people that have never suffered as you have been, have a swinging brick for a heart. When I have felt down, I never listen to moving music or anything that could be deemed as sad on the TV or radio. That really rules out the News at the moment, but believe me, it all passes with time. Good luck

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Your comments to Malcolm warmed my heart - wise words which brightened my day which was not going so well.

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Thank you for your kind reply. I do believe that no man (or woman) are an island and therefore someone out there in the big wide world does know how another feels when going through something - however, this conclusion has not come easily and not before I had felt totally alone - as one does - where a positive remark may be what a person deems to be helpful IE "pull yourself together". Illness of any kind usually means the person with that illness is, for the most of their time, completely alone. At home while loved ones go to work etc. I also strongly believe this enforced loneliness is the one real barrier to overcoming anxiety or even depression that befalls so many of us. Me too! I now recognise this "black dog" as Winston Churchill described it and can motivate myself to try and get out of it but sometimes it is very hard, especially when an act of "life" comes along to kick us in the pants. So many triggers that can have a terrible affect on ones well being and confidence. Getting well or better involves so many facets, just being here shows others we have the will and strength to make it - a great song is "Always look on the bright side of life" which if nothing else, really does make me smile and with the knowledge that there are many others far worse off than I am, makes me feel so much better. Recovery is a long road, but it does not last forever. Think back to when you were really ill, and how painful it was (after triple heart bypass it was) and thinking I'll never get through this - and now, months later I have truly forgotten just how bad it was - well not really - I have just overcome the anxiety of it all - another plus - look back but don't stare - just learn! Simples

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Very inspiring thank you x

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Hi I totally empathise I have found having an exercise plan - on kitchen wall - very visual - I try to do some everyday and yoga

Also relaxing breathing Breath right into your belly gently deep breath. Breath in your worry or anxiety and blow it out and repeat. Don't judge yourself. It's a new one for me - I am learning not to ask why and keep searching for answers but to work with what I have

Acupuncture treatments have also helped with anxiety

Be kind to yourself too

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Hi Malcolm, just the description "Heart Failure" sounds so ominous but in truth it covers so many different conditions that give us a reduced performance from our heart. Coming to terms with it gives many of us a challenge. In my case it was the pericardium constricting my heart over a number of years, something rare in the Western world but before the diagnosis all the tests indicated my heart was fine with just a weakened electrical impulse that nobody could decipher why. However having had the pericardium removed it revealed the constriction had damaged the capacity of my heart to pump effectively as normal but all the bits, the valves , etc, are fine! So how is that deemed as Heart Failure? So I too have difficulty in thinking my heart has any kind of issue but 8 months post op I know that I have not recovered to the level that I had previous to the problem developing and do not anticipate getting back, I have to accept that.

I can say without finally getting the diagnosis and the op I would be in a far worse condition than now and that makes me really grateful for the surgical team who I trusted with my life aged 74. In truth I still cannot accept I have Heart Failure because immediately post op I was given no cardiac recovery programme as folk who have had a heart attack enjoy and I know from my wife that helped her tremendously to come to terms with having a heart attack and carrying on her life. For a number of months I had bad anxiety attacks linked to PTSD to which some of the medication and indeed the surgery can contribute, finally I sought some help with this and am now in better shape altogether.

Sharing your concerns with others can be a great help and I feel sure you will get over the anxiety and you will look back and realise it was part of the recovery process. I laugh about some of it now but at the time it felt pretty dark. Keep on going Malcolm, you are going to be fine too! Very best wishes.

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Thank you for your time and support

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There's no magic wand you can wave to get yourself out of anxiety or depression. I was very down and very anxious for a long time after my heart failure diagnosis and still have the odd wobble, but genuinely feel pretty positive these days. Things I found helpful were talking to a professional, taking antidepressants, being as proactive as I could in looking after myself and doing things I enjoyed while I was doing them - for me that was all sorts of crafting. My top tip for fighting your way out of a down period is to make a to-do list each day and tick jobs off as you go. You can make the jobs as small/simple as you need (get dressed, tick! eat breakfast, tick! feed the cat, tick!) but give yourself a pat on the back for everything you achieve and tick off. If you can improve your mood even a little, it becomes easier to tackle the source of anxiety with a clear head and a bit of determination. It's not easy though, I know. Good luck x

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Thanks

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Many thanks

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Anxiety is not always a bad thing and can be the catalyst you need to reach out & take extra precautionary measures to ensure you live your life to the fullest.

Imagine if you had no anxiety at all and you were totally calm about your condition, I know many who are like that and unfortunately it has landed them several times in dangerous situations due to carelessness and thinking they know better.

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