Phased return to work - bit disappoin... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Phased return to work - bit disappointed


Hi - had to pay to get an angiogram back in September as in the NHS system I was told I didn’t qualify. Low cholesterol, very active non smoker with good diet etc. Turned out I had a 99% occlusion and I opted to pay for a stent there and then. Recovery has been good and this week I went back to work on a phased return. I’ve done mornings but yesterday realised just how much the events of the past month or so have taken their toll and have opted not to go in today. What’s hit me most is how some aspects of the job really affect my blood pressure, reading was sky high yesterday. I’ve contacted work and explained the area of the job causing this, they already know and are trying to address it but it’ll take time. I just feel a bit silly that I’ve only just returned yet feel I’m not up to some aspects of the job. I don’t feel especially equipped to tackle this at all even though I quite robust emotionally how can I step away from work situations that do this? Added to this I’m now questioning if the job is right for me if I cannot perform as is necessary and indeed as I did before. I have only mentioned that I paid for the angiogram etc because I’m starting to think I’m still abit in shock at the findings even though I’ve recovered it was not what I expected. I’m in cardiac rehabilitation but that’s just going to the gym type class each week so whilst I am doing it it’s not quite making me feel better mentally.

31 Replies

Not silly at all.

That is a huge amount to be dealing with. An unexpected diagnosis, immediate treatment, cardiac rehab and back to work the next month.

Your body and mind have had a real trauma and it it doesn’t go nowhere. Your employer sounds very reasonable when this is often not the case.

Perhaps it would help to speak to someone like a counsellor, therapist or even a health coach who could help you process all of this, consider what your options are and put in place a plan with you that you feel comfortable with. And that’s more than 1 appt!

It’s good that you have recognised that there are some issues that need resolving. Your GP might be able to point you in the right direction an the BHF nurses run a helpline and they might also be able to help.

Make a call today!

Take care

What Speakeazi says! You need to talk to someone about this and it’s totally normal to feel the way you do.

Having read this I am struck by your sense of ownership and clarity of your situation. It is rare to see. So many people (quite naturally) scream blue murder that their symptoms were ignored and they were left at risk, or moan long and loud about how unfair it is that they looked after themselves and yet they still became ill, or they ignore their body telling them something (and die of the consequences) or wait for other people to take the initiative (medics) or responsibility. It’s impressive and looks like it may have saved your life but maybe allow that you may have unaddressed feelings (unfairness, anger) and maybe seek a professional to explore that with. Having acting so decisively when needed don’t overlook what might have contributed towards the situation. Cut yourself some slack and talk it out with someone.

Enjoy your continued recovery, you done good getting it dealt with before an event.


MichaelJHHeart Star

Who is doing your rehab? The Phase 3 hospital based one I attended could refer people for counseling. This seems to be needed more often where a heart attack and/or treatment was unexpected.


Its still early days

I had a HA end of May this year had angiogram but no stents managed now by Medication and its only now I feel more or less back to normal .

I was lucky as just handed in my notice as was retiring I dont think I would have managed to go back to my job as it was very stressful.

had 12 weeks sick leave maybe you need more time off to recover .

I echo what the others have said, I feel I went back to work too early, Although sitting at home was mind numbing, !!… take your time, hope it all works out for you.

MilkfairyHeart Star

Hi Highbury Hill

Everyone has given such great advice already.

The hospital I attend offers psychologist support.

I found speaking to a Cardiac psychologist very helpful. I had to work through the mistakes that the medical team had made in my care.

The Trust did apologise and my Admission plan was the positive result.

Our minds seem to take much longer to heal.

As someone else has said be kind to yourself and seek some extra support.

It really is okay.

Thanks to everyone- I kind of know all the theory but frustratingly I’m not great at putting it into practice. Looking in from the outside I even know what I’d say to someone in my shoes. Just back from a good walk to clear my head and I think I firstly need to accept that I’m not invincible and that I have limitations to how I can perform in a busy and often unpredictable work environment. I can control the environment at home but work is a different place. I’m going to call the cardiac nurse and get a referral to the psychologist or therapist. Thanks again it’s brilliant being able to come here and get support and often simple but invaluable input from you all.

You listened to what your body told you once and acted on it, listen again when your body says this is too much, act on it again. Good luck and take care.



so glad that your proactiveness in your situation got to the bottom of what was going on.

I think as previous posters have said having someone appropriate to talk to would help with processing your feelings, as it has been a shock.

Also if you feel that the job you are doing is too stressful then I think it is a perfectly legitimate idea to consider other types of career path.

Only you know what is okay for you and if you can afford a change in job financially it might be an option. It is not something you have to hurry to make a decision over and it may turn out it is best to stay in your current position especially if your company will be able to make reasonable adjustments. But when it comes to our health I think all ideas that may help us should be looked at.

In suggestions for keeping mentally in a good place,The things that I do that help is trying to make sure everyday I have quiet contemplation time. I have favourite outdoor places I go with a flask of coffee and just sit quietly.

Even in my garden just somewhere to sit still and watch nature. ( i also like sacred spaces and churches. not everyones cup of tea!!! )but works for me.

I also meditate using a meditation app favourite is guided meditations which is a form of directed daydreaming. I have been allowed to meditate during operation ( not heart related) so it can be used in stressful situations.

So those ideas may or may not appeal to you but those are some of the things that I have personally found helped me.

Take care you sound like you are being your own best friend and advocate .

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Rosie78

Hi Rosie78

Have you seen this app? Lots of free meditations and nature sounds.

I find the sound of rain really calming.

Hidden in reply to Milkfairy

I was looking for an app last night to try to sleep. Chronic anxiety and insomnia.

Maybe I’m wasting my time. Getting to sleep is normally ok after about 20 - 30 minutes.

The problem is waking up 2 - 3 hours later with horrible anxiety.

A waking nightmare!

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Hidden

Yup I am sleep deprived at the moment too. It's exhausting.

My vasospasms are keeping me awake between 2 and 4am.

I listen to music or the rain sounds to help keep me calm.

Have you spoken to your GP about how you are feeling?

The problem I know there is a lack of access to the care we need.

I hope you find a way to feel calmer and more at ease soon.

Hidden in reply to Milkfairy

Thanks MilkFairy

I’m seeing a psychiatrist Tuesday.

I had to Google Vasospasm.

With me having chronic anxiety + insomnia I spend my life tired and wired.

I also have heart failure (Dilated Cardiomyopathy). Recent increase in beta blocker bisoprolol doesn’t help either. Sleep disturbance.

Buddhism says ‘Life is Suffering’. They are correct. Anyway I hope your condition improves and I wish you all the best.

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Hidden

Thank you Wally44

There is a group of us who all live with chronic long term conditions.

It about learning to live well with what life throws our way.

I am trying to read

' Living beautifully with uncertainty and change' by Pema Chodron

Wishing you calm and contentment too.

Hidden in reply to Milkfairy

I agree I am trying to read Marcus Aurelius Meditations.

With anxiety concentration is a major issue. I am hoping to pursue some type of education to get back to work that doesn’t impede on my health.

If I can get anxiety under control I should be able to study.

I am 50 years old and I am on a new journey.

Because I am signed off by Universal Credit I will not have to pay for a course.

I think some courses begin in January.

I hope I am not called Pops or grandad in class (joking) I hope there are people my age. A mixed age class would be ideal. My work coach mentioned online university but with technology we are losing contact with people. I think being in a class interacting with people is better for overall health.

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Hidden

Look up Laura_dropstitch she has just started a PhD.

Hidden in reply to Milkfairy

Brilliant. I’ll do less than that. She’s a lot younger than me but that’s brilliant.

I’m very happy for her. I might follow her. It would be good to have someone on here for support.

I’m very happy I found this site. I deleted my stupid Facebook + Twitter accounts

No social media

Rosie78 in reply to Milkfairy

Hi Milkfairy,

That is the meditation app that I use, it is really good isn't it!

Also for a small yearly subscription you get all the courses for free.

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Rosie78

It's great I agree 🧘‍♀️

outofwhack in reply to Milkfairy

Move to Manchester!

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to outofwhack


I lived in Manchester many many years ago for 6 years.

I have very fond memories....

HighburyHill in reply to Rosie78

Thanks Rosie78,

I’m pretty good at doing calming things - when I’m not at work. Possibly I’ve returned too soon but I genuinely felt ok to try. I’m speaking to HR later and will need to start using more realistic language around my situation as opposed as being so upbeat about being fine. They do need to tackle an area of my role that causes issues and they are trying but as yet it’s still on my desk if you like.

Thanks so much for kind words

Quick update- firstly thanks to everyone who has responded, it is so helpful and reassuring. I called my cardiac rehabilitation occupational therapist who has just been amazing this morning. Really helped me put things in perspective and has insisted I call HR and explain they need to ensure I have more support. It’s partly my fault that I presented myself back at work ‘looking fine’ they cannot be expected to see anything else. I’m waiting for work to call me back and feel better that someone else has essentially told me I need to be able to say no and also insist on more support. I’m asking work to refer me to OH and also going to be much less “yes I’m fine” about everything. The physical symptoms of high blood pressure in the work environment were really shocking yesterday so I also need to tackle my response to being in that environment. Sadly I think I’m already realising the environment is not conducive to my recovery.

Hidden in reply to HighburyHill

I’m 50 and need to take a course that will give me a qualification so I don’t have to do my past menial jobs that required heavy lifting and long hours.

It’s an exciting time. I need to check out colleges and suitable courses. I’m in UK on ‘Universal Credit’ Benefit’s so would get free education.

I hope it’s not full of youngsters calling me Pops or granddad.

It’s a new journey for me.


Hi Highbury nice to meet you .

Reading your post is a little confusing like everything else it's difficult to understand in a few words.

A couple of questions why did you feel you needed an angiogram and the HNS wouldn't perform one ??

Counselling sounds like it may help.

Now this sounds a little Silly a 99 % occlusion which was causing no symptoms, didn't mean you were a candidate for a Heart Attack. Quite a few people have total occlusions in their arteries and are not aware of it !!! The Heart can find new ways of re routing around blockages just like a London Bus can.

None of us can help with the work aspect, but should you not feel better having had the stent installed ? and should you not be able to cope with work all the better. You didn't say if it is a physical aspect or mental aspect you are finding difficult. Just trying along with others to help.


HighburyHill in reply to Prada47

I didn’t feel I needed an angiogram. I was being told by the NHS I was low risk of heart attack and just had angina . The results of blood tests etc meant I didn’t come high enough up the list to warrant escalation to an angiogram. They have to look at the bigger picture and the algorithm they applied showed me as nothing to worry about. I wanted more information so I paid to see a consultant and he recommended an angiogram to eliminate any worries. He was as shocked as I was to see a 99% occlusion.

It’s so interesting how many of us don’t fit The Algorithm. I have 40% LAD stuff but also have peripheral artery disease in all sorts of important arteries.

But because I was mid 50s, female, non smoker, v little alcohol, but a little overweight & raised BP, no one considered that I would have heart disease or all of the other stuff.

I’ve got used to the idea and at least we know what we’ve got. And can help ourselves.

And for everyone, even if the weathers rubbish we can still go for a walk!! And don’t let the Rugby push up the BP:)

MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Prada47


Many of those with non obstructive coronary artery disease such as microvascular and vasospastic angina are ' low risk' according to the risk assessment used by the NHS designed to assess the risk of a heart attack due to coronary artery disease.

About 6% of heart attacks occur without any blockages coronary artery disease, Myocardial infarction non obstructive coronary arteries.

Vasospastic and microvascular angina and spontaneous coronary artery dissection are the possible causes of these types of heart attack.

So many also slip through the net for this reason too. I nearly did. I got the appropriate treatment 7 years ago to stop a severe vasospasm in my coronary arteries which the Cardiologists thought might have caused a heart attack.

I wasn't allowed home until my Cardiac MRI showed all was well. However that query hangs over me.

It shows that medicine is not an exact science.

Hi there. Glad you're going to rehab. It's a lot more than just exercise. You should have access to cardiac nurse, mine is there at my 2 sessions a week. You can speak with her at any of your gym sessions if you feel the need. Also you can be referredto a psychologist to address any anxiety you have.Im taking that offer up as I have work related stress I need to face. Also I think you've returned to work too soon. Im still off after 9 weeks. I also did not believe I had a cardiac event. At times I still find it odd as nno history, no nothing. No blockages. Stick with the rehab and speak with rehab staff anytime you feel you would l7ke reassured.

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