Cant get heart attack out of my head - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Cant get heart attack out of my head

Ourdill profile image

I had a heart attack last year at 43, and due to covid missed out on the cardiac rehab. I cant stop thinking about it, easily 20 times a day and it's driving me crazy. Been back in hospital with blue lights 6 times since due to what has been noted as a form of PTSD. Ive returned to work and am becoming more active as I feel better, I need tips on how to get this outta my head please

39 Replies

Hello and welcome to the forumI'm sorry to hear that you are struggling, research suggests that 15% of people who suffer a heart attack experience PTSD, so you are not alone feeling like this. Missing out on cardio rehab will also not have helped your situation.

Have you considered talking to you GP to see if you can get referred for treatment?

Below is a link to a BHF article on the subject.

Hey, yes. Due to so many A&E trips the docs there and also my GP have been contacting the relavent people and I've been rereferred to the cardiac rehab and also clinical psychological department of our local hospital, but due to covid, and the actual backlog of folk who have suffered at the same time as me, there is a long waiting list. As per my reply to Robbie below, I'm OK when I'm busy, my head hasn't time to think about replaying that horrible day, it just the quiet times that hurt. The anxiety actually causes pain in my chest as well as mentally. I'm trying to ignore it as I know the signs but still it hounds me daily nearly a year on

Sadly there will be a long list of people awaiting all sorts of treatment due to covid, hopefully you won't have too long to wait.Spotted one of your other replies when you said you stopped smoking the day of your heart attack - well done. I'd been trying to stop for years and also stopped the day on my heart attack. My consultant was very persuasive!

I had my first heart attack in 2010 (and the second this year though that is because I didn't learn lessons and change my lifestyle) and I honestly believe that the cardiac rehab I had back then gave me confidence to know that I was recovering well. This time around, with no cardiac rehab, I find myself thinking about every little thing. The cardiac rehab I had back in 2010 started about 3 weeks after I was discharged from hospital and lasted 5 weeks. Three times a week in a group setting, exercising, having a cardiac nurse to talk to about any fears etc was excellent. Again, none of this is happening now so fears are left to fester.

I'm sure you know deep in your mind that you are doing well? However this won't stop fears coming to the surface, especially if you are replaying the heart attack over and over in your mind. SpiritoftheFloyd has posted some good information. As well as your GP you could also contact the cardiac nurses at your hospital if you to be referred for treatment.

Take care.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Robbie1964

Hey, yeah im in touch again with the cardiac rehab but it's only one phone call per week. I'm recently back to work part time as I don't feel ready to return full time just yet and that's helping loads, but it's the quiet times that plays with my head. I know I'm OK if I keep taking my meds daily as I should, and that the surgeons did everything they thought necessary when they stented me, so I'm probably in better health than most people right now, but if I feel my left arm twitch or my chest muscles flutter for a second, it's SOOO reminiscent of the heart attack that I panic and am instantly head to toe cold sweats and can't stop worrying. Also as daft as it sounds when in bed trying to sleep, I'm very aware of my heart beating (which is a good thing haha) but it's so slow with the meds and almost disturbing. I'm getting there. I'm thinking of maybe hypnosis to try get this worry out of my head?

Kristin1812 profile image
Kristin1812Heart Star

It sounds tough. The other replies are offering some really good ideas. But I did wonder if you have started making some basic changes to your risk factors? Weight and diet, smoking, alcohol, exercise? You know stress is an issue, and you have tried to get referred for counselling, but yes, Clinical Psychology is usually very full. Does your work have any employee support counselling? Or could you afford to pay for a few sessions yourself?I found just setting myself some small goals and then working on very small steps, was an achievement and helped me feel just slightly more in control.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Kristin1812

Hey, yeah I've taken life very seriously in the last year, my diet was always good and I rarely drank and quit smoking the day it happened. I even joined a gym when they reopened and the guy who runs it had the same LAD stent after an attack 3nyrs ago so he knows where Im at and not to push me.. Thats helped loads mentally as well. Its really just the quiet times where I'm doing my own head in, and my head and body are playing tricks with each other that's hurting

Kristin1812 profile image
Kristin1812Heart Star in reply to Ourdill

You’ve already done really great with these risk factors, particularly smoking.....keep up the good work.

Samog profile image
Samog in reply to Ourdill


I had a HA in February this year, had a stent fitted to my LAD and at 49 found it the biggest shock of my life. I struggle a bit too especially at night and have found it hard just having rehab on the phone once a week.

Not sure I have any fantastic advice for you as I am trying to muddle through myself but I just wanted to let you know you are not alone xx

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Samog

Hey.. Exactly the same with stent in LAD, mine was nearly a year ago now but the aftercare is still poor considering what has happened to us all. I get they are trying to do what they can but I'm finding self help to be the way forward.. There are some good tips in the replies here so have a read thro and hopefully some will help you forward too 😊

It is very true there is an awful lot you can do for yourself but sometimes you need the kick up the **** that rehab can give you, they need to restart it now.

Kristin1812 profile image
Kristin1812Heart Star in reply to lateguitarist

Yes, I know exactly what you mean, and I hope it starts really soon for you. I got so much out of it.....everyone seemed to. Great programme!

The physical side of care post HA is great. The mental health side, I found, was very poor. I too had ptsd. I had a voice going off in my head telling me I would die if I wore certain clothing, not to mention other upsetting things. Eventually it will get easier. I'd encourage you to talk to people you trust about what happened and how you feel. Don't be afraid to go over it again and again. A massive thing has happened to you. The life in you has almost been made to leave your body. It's not a small thing. But trust me it will fade with time. Now and again the voice still pops up with me, but now I can just laugh at it. You'll be the same too with your personal version of ptsd. Pm me should you ever want to talk 👍😊

I’ve got the impression that cardiac rehab has disappeared post Covid. I wonder what they’re all doing. Can’t imagine they’re all on furlough.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Mentdent

Hey, I speak to someone on a weekly basis from our local hospital cardiac rehab.. They are working but due to covid they are still not allowed to have any "unnecessary"(?) people within the hospital as yet.

Mentdent profile image
Mentdent in reply to Ourdill

But what are they doing if they aren’t seeing patients? I had one call. I must be unnecessary I suppose.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Mentdent

Same as me.. Its only due to my repeated visits to a and e that I'm speaking to them now

Having benefited from it a couple of years ago I think they really should restart it now, it's beginning to wear a bit thin to be honest, we still can't even get anywhere near our GP despite many other professions managing to cope, it make you wonder if they actually want to see people at all now. The rehab was massively helpful to me and many others and I really feel for people like the OP here at the moment.

My HA was in March. I got one phone call from rehab at the end of April and that’s it.

That's shocking to be honest and like I said I really don't see any reason now - gyms are open, and for those who are physically able to attend I don't think the "danger" of catching C19 outweighs the benefit. Unless you have been in the position where you need it, it is very hard to explain how it helps. Like you say what the hell are they doing exactly?

Same thing happened to me last year also, having been told I had heart attack I went into shock, can't believe it, I'm due to go back to work,scared stiff,has I have breathing problems now n then, but staying home is awful, need to get back on track. Hope this will stop me worrying at every little pain ect I feel,thinking it my heart giving out, I'm due a bypass at some point in the future,so a long waiting game. Good luck.

Welcome to the forum - it has to be said that missing out on the rehab will have had a big negative effect, it's a damn shame and to be honest I think they could and should probably restart it now, the benefit surely outweighs the risk. However, one of the big factors in all this is your approach now, going forwards. Have you thought about what might have contributed to your HA? For example can you change your diet, or remove any stress you have, and certainly focus on an exercise regime. You have to get it into your head that what you have now is a second chance at life, one which a lot of people do not get, and focusing on that will help you on your road to recovery, even coming to terms with what led to the HA can help? Sometimes it just happens to the fittest people but a lot of the time there is a reason and a lifestyle change will help, as well as giving you something to think about.

I'm in exactly the same situation. In my area (surrey) there is an NHS service (Mind Matters NHS IAPT Service, which offers counselling etc. I was given face to face sessions to help. So far it's too early to see if they are actually helping

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to richard_jw

My local iapt (Coventry) wasn't interested as I wasn't an addict of any kind🤦🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️

richard_jw profile image
richard_jw in reply to Ourdill

That's really tough. I thought that they were obliged to offer help.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to richard_jw

The guy I spoke to seemed very pompous and asked me why I needed help. I told him what had happened and he really didn't seem interested. Hence my shout here

richard_jw profile image
richard_jw in reply to Ourdill

Try talking to your GP. They can refer you, and it might have some more clout than self referral

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to richard_jw

It was my doctor that suggested I contacted iaps as well as his referral to clinical psychology. I have an appt 2mo so I will bring this up with my go again for sure

I have just started under I.apt, they have been great with me but again too soon to know wether it's working. Regards Sheena x

Hi Ourdill. I had my first HA at 39 and to date have had 6 HA's and I'm still here. I have also had 2 ops and got to know the ambulance and A&E staff by first names. It's a labour state of mind. Focus on what you can do and set a goal of what you want to do. Just as a side I did not receive any rehab for any of my HA"s. Try and be positive. I had young children at the time. It has now been 18 years and still going. Also have 4 stents. Look forward. Best wishes.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Gazzer83

Oh wow.. Now that's a story for the grandkids ❤️

Hi, what is Op, and how old are you? To do work out heavily ?

OP is operation. I worked in heavy industry.

Hi. I was diagnosed with PTSD after an at home SCA. I started on CBT therapy then after I was diagnosed started EMDR therapy. I have found this has helped me but it does get harder before it gets better but definitely worth it. Hope this helps. You're not on your own hun, lots of lovely people on here to talk to. You will get through this. Take care x

Thanks for all the positive replies. I'm taking a lot away from all of your comments and the tears I had writing it have turned into smiles. Thankyou all ❤️

I had the same problem. I wasn't allowed to do rehab 2 years ago as I'm in a wheelchair. I desperately wanted the reassurance of someone supervising my exercise. GP suggested counselling but to be honest I ended up educating her about living with chronic pain rather than her helping me.. It was time that helped me; each month realising I hadn'thad another HA, my BP was stable and the attacks of pain were fewer and fewer

ph5019 profile image
ph5019 in reply to Qualipop

Hi EMDR by a private therapist worked for my PTSD via Zoom.

My thoughts on HA were lodged in the wrong part of my brain, now no problems, just had HA first anniversary .


Hi. I know how it feels, so can fully relate. I’m only 40 years and consider myself fittest in whole family (among nearly 50 people). I suffered a HA in Feb this year (Cardiologist said it is mild one). I had no prior warning. I was running every day, watching what I eat and doing everything one can do to stay healthy. I did smoke nearly 4 years before but that was only for just under a year.

When thIS happened to me, all I did was cried quietly, blamed myself for bringing to myself and family. I had few telephone chats with cardiac rehab nurse who really helped to get back on road. I was even scared Of putting foot outside my home.

The road to recovery is tough and I’m not sure even if I can ever get over this fear of having another HA. But we got to carry on and try to make those little adjustments in life which we think got us to this place.

Make adjustments to diet, go for walks, take meds on time and try to be happy.

I still get anxious at times but I try to keep myself busy with work, family and gardening.

I hope you will feel better very soon.

Ourdill profile image
Ourdill in reply to Hearty21

I have weekly calls off my rehab nurse from Warwick hospital and have now found work part time inbetween school hours.. The whole point of distraction has been so good for me.. I guess I got a bit cabin feverish in the last year with the lockdowns as well, but since writing this post I haven't really let it cross my mind. I carry my gtn as a matter of cause and am only 4 weeks away from stopping the ticagrelor and lanzopralol meds which marks a year since my heart attack and LAD stent. I'm not gonna let it rule my life anymore.. I now realise how precious it actually is so I'm enjoying every minute. Everyday I wake I smile just because I have actually woken lol.. Hope you feel better soon too

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