Has anyone had issues with their empl... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Has anyone had issues with their employer since having a heart attack?

28 Replies

Hi hearties, not looking for names or anything but I’m not being treated great by mine and just wondering if anyone else encountered issues?

I had a widowmaker in Nov 2020, returned to work Feb 2021. Went back to extra responsibilities, other people’s roles (due to a round of redundancies) and no support or understanding of what I’d been through.

I got so stressed as I now struggle with short term memory and some executive functions, all normal after being dead for over a minute. I went for regular blood check with GP and liver enzyme levels were raised to to cortisol created by stress.

I’ve been signed off since end June and my work are now on the back foot due to criticism of my treatment by occupational health and my union rep. We’re going through a plan to ensure my condition is now taken seriously.

Has anyone had a similar experience or any advice?

I work for a large bank who are always at pains to say how much they care about their staff and customers and they’re listening to them. Yet my reality is it’s all words and no substance.



28 Replies
Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star

I am sorry to hear you are facing difficulties with your employer's attitude to your mental and physical well being.

You fall under the Equality Act 2010 which means you can request reasonable adjustments be made to your working environment and conditions.


Occupational health should complete a risk assessment and make recommendations to your employers such as your working hours, home working etc.

It's good you have the support of your union.

Good luck.

in reply to Milkfairy

Thanks for the link 🙏

FiftyNotOut profile image

I work for a large national broadcaster in a very stressful job and had a widow maker in April. I was signed off for six weeks and after a phased return was fully back three weeks later. Like you I don’t feel what happened to me has been taken seriously. But to be honest I think that’s probably true of most invisible conditions. I’m treating it as a watching brief and am ready to make more of a fuss if needs be.

in reply to FiftyNotOut

Thanks, sounds like I’m not alone. I sent my HR team links to internet sites so they had some understanding of what I’m going through, in the hope of some empathy.I guess we’re all just numbers when it boils down to it 🤷🏻

FiftyNotOut profile image
FiftyNotOut in reply to

Did you have cardiac rehab? I’m still under a psychologist for that. She has offered to write to occupational health to spell out the impact on me. Thing is - we’re going through a major restructuring. I have to be referred to OH by my manager, but currently don’t have a manager. Couldn’t make it up.

in reply to FiftyNotOut

I did it all myself, local services all cut for COVID.The occ health report was the best thing I had done. Push for it, mine was only done in July after being signed off. They said it should have been done before return in Feb.

My advice, push as much as you can for what you’re entitled to and make people listen.

Engaging the union was something I should have done straight after heart attack.

Best wishes

Beatles1956 profile image

HiAlthough I did not have the same medical problems that you have, I also worked for a large Bank, and had other problems at the time. My immediate boss was great, but beyond that - forget it. I woke up one day and realised I was old enough to take early retirement, didn't have to take it anymore. So I retired and worked for charities for several years and didn't regret it one bit. If you are able to consider it, it might help. You will be surprised what transferable skills you have.👍

in reply to Beatles1956

Great advice thanks, it’s something that’s definitely in my mind now.

In my first 90 days off after my HA, my work initiated 103 separate contacts with me. Like you, I'd been dead for a couple of minutes, had and still have brain fog, ptsd, and was coming to terms with the new me.In the end I asked them to stop and told them I felt it was bordering on being bullied.

They did stop. A year after the HA I went back to work. I found them to be very uncaring. They made no allowance for the new me. So I had a chat with one of the senio HR people and we agreed a settlement figure and I parted company with them 'on good terms'.

To the majority of employers, you will never be anything more than a resource. As long as you remember that, then you should be OK.

in reply to

Thanks. Yeah it’s clear as day now, just a number

firstlight40 profile image

While my HA was minor, my work have been very good, saying don't come back to work too early, don't stress /worry about deadlines, and I arranged part time working, no problems,about attending cardiac rehab etc. I'm now back full time and pretty much normal. Probably helps that my employer's corporate charity partner is the BHF!

in reply to firstlight40

Glad things worked out for you 🙏

My experience: I worked as an academic for a large internationally renowned university in the North of England. I was off work for almost six months after a NSTEMI. I refused to go back until I had my cardiac rehab. I was able to tell the surgery how long I wanted my (un)fit to work note to last. Initially I asked for 2 weeks, then subsequently got them for 4 weeks at a time. I really didn't feel well enough psychologically to go back to work, so I didn't rush it.

I played hard ball as my HA was definitely work- / stress-related and they knew it. Only six hours before my HA I had been laying into senior management in a meeting and they even tried to get the minutes of the meeting changed to redact what I had criticised them for. A close colleague told me all hell broke loose when my wife emailed them to say I had had a HA. A lot of backside covering took place by my employer.

I went to OH but they were useless and I felt were on the uni's "side". I filled out a return to work form and my manager blanched when we met to discuss it.

When I returned I dictated my phased return. I wasn't given much work when I returned and they even recruited another person in my area (at a much higher salary!)

I took VS (aged 60) because I couldn't be bothered taking them to tribunal etc especially as I wasn't in the Union (long story why I left it after 27 years) and you need deep pockets to take on a large employer.

As others have posted, an organisation's rhetoric and reality are miles apart.

I don't have much good to say for senior management and the culture but at least I wasn't pursued to go back like some (so that's something positive).

But everyone's not lucky enough to be able to stop work, and while I'm still a bit resentful as I was fit and looked after my health pre-HA, I'm glad I'm not working for them, or at all to be frank.

in reply to Heartattackvictim

Hope you’re doing ok now 🙏

SelstonCanary profile image


I can identify with your situation. I had a Stemi with cardiac arrests back in 2018 and initially the company were pretty good with a phased return after 3 months and then agreeing to reduce my hours. More recently though, they have ramped up the pressure, my team size is the same as other team leaders who are full time and there are now targets for just about every day to day activities. Their argument is that I have cover on my days off but when you manage people, it really doesn’t work like that.

I’m currently signed off with anxiety and intend to stay off until they start to recognise how I feel. Whilst I luckily didn’t suffer too much damage to my heart, the psychological impact remains and stress is not good for us hearties.

So I would say to stay strong and put yourself first.

Take care.

in reply to SelstonCanary

Thanks and best wishes, definitely putting myself first now.

BongoBaggins profile image

No, the opposite. I work in a large foundry and the management let me take off all the time I needed, and took me off furnaces/shifts when I asked and found me a less physical day job. They even paid me a full month's pay when I came back, when I'd only worked two weeks, they've been absolutely brilliant.Don't let anyone on this earth treat you badly. They haven't earned the right.

in reply to BongoBaggins

Sounds like a great employer. Absolutely, No one has the right 🙏

Ninjanoo profile image

I too worked for a bank for 15 years and it was the same culture where I worked. I have vasospastic angina and have daily chest pain but also get spasms during the night most nights of the week. I know this is entirely different to what you've had to go through but the fact you work in the same sector as I did it all sounds very familiar.

I tried to return to work on a phased return but had to be signed off again. I had my employment terminated on medical grounds May this year. I was checking in with them once every week all the time I was off sick. When I did return they wanted to go into minute detail of what my symptoms were, how I felt when it happens and what treatment I was getting for it. They delved into my medical history, wanted me to jump through hoops getting medical reports even to the point of harassing me to chase a GP report more than twice a week some weeks from the day they sent the request to the GP surgery. The so called "check-ins" stopped being about my wellbeing in the end. They even tried to get me to take a sabbatical without pay!

Sadly, you are treated as a number and to them you are easily replaced. I really hope things improve for you and your union rep is a good one. I wish you all the best and hope the outcome is a good one - for you.

You really do not need the additional stress.

Take care.

in reply to Ninjanoo

Thankyou, I hope things are looking up for you 🙏

SmokeAKipper profile image

Yah I had similar had widow maker... stent... back at work within 2 weeks... oss treated me very badly... couldn’t do anything as he was a director and the other directors were weak ... have since left...

in reply to SmokeAKipper

Hope things are better for you now 🙏

SmokeAKipper profile image
SmokeAKipper in reply to

Yah trying to stay on a vegan diet... had too many beers last night but you have to live life... one thing I learned is now we have tob3 proactive with our condition...

in reply to SmokeAKipper

Good for you. We’re only here once, or twice 🤣🙏

Sorry to hear about your story, you’re right, health is priority.

Thanks, I’m forcing them to understand or at least empathise. Thanks 🙏

Edgywoman profile image

I am sorry you have had a difficult time with your employer. As others have said you are covered by the Equality Act which means you are entitled to ask for reasonable adjustments to they way you do your job. Make sure that you point out everytime you feel that they are harrassing or bullying you about your return to work. You could always ask them to communicate via your union rep if you feel that what they are doing is making you worse. Make sure your GP and/or your consultant are OK with it as well, and once you have agreed it, ensure that everything is documented and signed off by your manager and HR.

in reply to Edgywoman

Thankyou. Great advice 👍

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