Getting my head around it all - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Getting my head around it all


Hi Everyone.

It’s been a while since I posted on here.

I’ve come back on here as I’m struggling to make sense of my recent diagnosis.

I’ve already posted here about being diagnosed two years ago with a prolapsed mitral valve.

Two weeks ago, I was also diagnosed with coronary heart disease, after getting chest pains which have been confirmed as angina.

One heart condition is bad enough, but two is taking some getting my head around, considering I’ve always been fit and healthy, never been overweight, never smoked, low blood pressure and low cholesterol.

My overriding fear is long have I got?

Okay, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but keeping away from buses, terrorists, acts of God, much shorter has my life become?

10 years? 20 years?

I’m 48 and suddenly thinking...”There’s so much I want to do, places to go!”

Suddenly I feel as though my head’s going to explode, let alone my heart.

How do you get your head around such a life changing diagnosis?

8 Replies
MichaelJHHeart Star

You could still be around in forty or fifty years if you stop worrying. I have mentioned in previous posts two people who are both over forty years post their cardiac event; a heart attack and a bypass (in the early days of the procedure). Both are doing well despite being in their nineties? So when they had their events they were around your age. Bypass surgery is quite common with valve surgery so nothing to fear - heart surgery is nearly production line these days and the staff are incredibly professional. Of course they may decide on stents or a conservative approach with lifestyle changes (although it sounds as little is needed) and medication.

So calm down and if you drink have a glass of a good Shiraz tonight (but just the one)!

OttoK in reply to MichaelJH

MichealJH is right. I went in for an aortic valve replacement and they added a double bypass "while they were at it". I am fine. Yes, it seems as if its the end of the world but it's not. Just make sure to have good access to the consultant and get on the list for surgery (if needed). It should then be straightforward.



I had a n MI in 1982 aged just 34 on Friday I will be 72 how do you cope, accept the S*** and get on with Life.

I have had CABG and I have a totally blocked RCA a further couple of stents 2018 in my LAD which had been by passed. Diagnosed with Heart Failure in 2015 and I have lived a full and rewarding life.

So you have two choices Accept the hand you have been dealt OR retreat into a corner feeling sorry for yourself. That sounds Very Harsh but not meant to.

If you need help it's out there WE all have bad days. I read a post the other day written by a lady who has been a big inspiration in my Journey of Heart Failure, She was down a little because she felt so tired. So you see your not alone Phil enjoy your life but it is so much better if you can Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude it makes life much much easier ! Sorry if it all sounds a little rough but it gets easier Honestly.

Hi. An uncle of mine had bypass and 11 stents. Had his first operation way back. After a heart attack at age 33. He just passed away aged 80. And wasn't held back by it all. Had a big thriving business and was fine. Packed in the ciggies and cream cakes that were part of his downfall though.

Mum had a heart attack in her early 50's and we lost her a couple of years ago aged 87. My wife's Nan had a triple bypass in the '80s and is still going at 90 this year.

My heart attack - and, obviously, diagnosis of coronary artery disease - last November (at 51) has certainly been "life changing". Entirely for the better.

I've reassessed work patterns (self employed and was ALWAYS working), found more time for myself, lost just over 2 stone (with another couple planned) and am now fitter than I have been for at least a decade, if not 2.

I still intend to live forever but, if I don't, I'm not going to waste every minute worrying about work or whether I'll be around tomorrow.

I was lucky that the heart attack was small, with no significant damage, so gave me good warning to mend my ways. With a blocked LAD it could have been a heck of a lot worse later on so, in a away, it was the best thing that's happened to me in a long time!

Sounds like both of your diagnoses are much the same - make the most of the warning and be thankful that you got one!

How do you cope? Put the kettle on...

You cope by working closely as possible with your cardiac team including taking advantage of any counselling they offer. Make a plan with them that includes 'rules' for physical and mental fitness and post that plan on the fridge or memo board where you will see it daily to be reminded of your new rules. First and foremost you cope by doing everything the team guides you to doing to get to the best level of health possible given your condition(s).

Then every time you feel the worry-worm trying to wriggle into your soul, repeat the following: 'I've done everything I can to mitigate my new circumstance - I am doing the very best I can to maintain a good level of health.' Learn to say it (or similar, what ever works for you) the very second you begin to feel concern. Trust me, repeating your new mantra does become automatic - but only if you actively work at it until it is.

Self-talk works (cognitive behavioural therapy) - I have multiple heart conditions (six, to be exact) and every time I see the GP and/or cardiologist they joke they are a bit annoyed with me not being as unwell as my conditions would generally have other patients. Why am I this way? Because I made a plan years ago and follow it, and because I self-talk every time I start thinking 'Blimey, I'm a mess!'.

Btw - my first heart condition arrived way back in 1963ish when I had rheumatic fever that went on to become Rheumatic Heart Syndrome. Not to brag, but that's when my dad and the doctors taught me to make that plan and write a mantra - and the result was despite the RHS I was one of the first women in the USCG after women were allowed to go full active duty in '73, managed to carry two pregnancies full-term (my children are 37 and 43, with five children between them), surfed, swam competitively, did rodeo, rock-climbing...I know I would not have been able to have an active life without the plan and the mantra. It works.

I'm retired now and back permanently in the UK - and I still follow that plan. I've had a bit of a hiccup that began in March of this year (2019) but am on the path back to as full a recovery as is possible - all down to the plan.


'Two weeks ago, I was also diagnosed with coronary heart disease, after getting chest pains which have been confirmed as angina."

"One heart condition is bad enough, but two is taking some getting my head around, considering I’ve always been fit and healthy, never been overweight, never smoked, low blood pressure and low cholesterol."

Which tests did you have to have such a swift diagnosis if you didn't mind me asking this? ECG?

Angio (CT)?

Well done to the Cardiologist and his Team and you.

It's reassuring to know that they are looking after you.

Prolapsed MV.


Not everyone who had "high cholesterol" is diagnosed with CHD.

In fact, some older people with high cholesterol have absolutely no CHD!

In fact, there are studies to confirm people who are quite "round"

or "looking fat" live much longer than those, who are thin, LBP/low cholesterol.

Generalisation/stereotype would never go too far once you start looking at the details, so it seems. . . It could well be genetic. . .

I was wondering why there is no thread on "where would you like to go or move after major CHD?"

I've got to agree with Michael's first post.

I just remember back in the 60's my dad having a triple bypass, he was then diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1975 and later in early 2006, dementia.

He's still with us and is 97 and although the dementia is progressing, he's got better blood pressure than anyone else in the family!! He's passed on that 'don't give up on anything in life' and that really helps us all. I think Sunnie2day has a similar idea.

Don't get the 'give up on life' in your head. Talk through your problems with others.

All the very best to you. xxxx

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