Advice please: I am fairly new on here... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Advice please

redimps profile image

I am fairly new on here and have a question about returning to work after STEMI.

I had a STEMI 13 weeks ago, total blockage RCA, angioplasty etc and things were going well until 8 weeks after when I developed Pericarditis ( Dressler Syndrome )

After feeling dreadful for a couple of weeks I am now staring to feel much better. Am due further tests, Echo etc and appointment with the Cardiologist in the next week.

I am considering my return to work on a phased return ( something which scares me as job is stressful and I had the heart attack whilst at work )

Any advise on how others have managed their return to work, when, phased hours etc would be gratefully received

Many Thanks

16 Replies

Is it essential that you return to work, particularly as it is stressful?

Hi Thanks for your response. Not necessarily essential but I guess I am afraid of making a wrong decision and finishing work altogether. It is so hard to know what to do. I had thought maybe return and if it was too much then finish.

Well, you have to consider the fact that you have had a major health issue. Fortunately you have come out of it fairly well, if you are considering going back to work - a lot of people are not around to tell the tale, remember. The idea is to change your lifestyle and remove the factors that have possibly/probably contributed to it, and stress is one of those. If you must work why not consider something easier? Personally my attitude is if it is not essential then think very seriously about stopping work and enjoying life a bit more? What would the "wrong decision" be for you, are you worried about filling your time?

Thanks and yes I am considering the possibility of not going back. I do appreciate how lucky I am and maybe need to re-evaluate my life

Hi redimps,

I had a STEMI in 2012 age 53, blockage LAD without your extra complications. My GP told me that I needed a phased return. I think that I started back 4hrs per day for 4 days only......I remember being surprised that it tired me out so much. I gradually increased from there, but before I was back full-time I was made redundant (me, and a guy who'd also had a heart attack, Mmmn). It took me about a year before I thought about getting another job, which had never been an issue for me before. I did an awful lot of walking during that year, parks, woods, fresh air.

redimps profile image
redimps in reply to nellie237

Hi yes will definitely discuss the phased return. Oh my, the redundancy is interesting and as there is possibility of some redundancies at my organisation I may end up in the same boat! Hope things are going well for you

I had my heart attack last Christmas, a very fit 45 year old running marathons but it shocked me how much going back to work took out of me. I work from home and the work itself isn’t particularly demanding but the mental and emotional effort made me tired. I went back after six weeks. Just doing half days to start with from 930-1pm, then having lunch, a nap and a short walk. It may have been exacerbated by having three teenagers at home as it was lockdown in Jan and Feb. But either way I would definitely phase it back in, listen to your body, talk to your family and to your boss and HR team. Thankfully I work for a very compassionate organisation who were brilliant with me- ‘take your time, we want you for the long haul. I managed ok on part time hours for about a month then gradually increased it to full hours again I think by mid-March. I also have an agreement that if I don’t feel well/tired I just go and rest for an hour. They know they’ve had plenty of extra time from me over the years and will continue to do so. Take care and all the best


redimps profile image
redimps in reply to Marcathon

Thank you it sounds as though your work have been very good with you, I hope that mine are the same but have doubts.

Every situation is different, so it would be impossible to advise on your return to work. It would need to be with the full support and consent of the medical team looking after you, especially as you have had complications.

I doubt few have had a time line like me. Heart attack Wednesday, straight to cath lab for two stents, discharged Saturday, the following week off work and back to work the following Monday. Well that's being self-employed for you. 😀

redimps profile image
redimps in reply to GWP1952

Oh my goodness that was quick, I hope all went well for you

GWP1952 profile image
GWP1952 in reply to redimps

Yes all fine thanks. I was fit before my heart attack and picked up on exercise as soon as I could afterwards. I had a triple bypass (elective) the following year which slowed me down for a month or so, but ultimately made things even better. I now climb larger hills up in Scotland! 😀

redimps profile image
redimps in reply to GWP1952

So pleased to hear your positive outcome. I hope I will be able to get to a better stage although I didn't climb hills before so doubt I will be doing that although maybe it is the time to do new things!

I did follow plan for phased return and agreed that with my manager. I started with 2 hours and then increased 1-2 hours each week (was still trying not to work all hours in one go and taking break in between). I am not sure if WFH is possible for your situation or not but for me that worked well as well. I think its a very good idea since it gives a good impression to manager and team that you are not going to be available for full day and they will be careful to not to put pressure of any sort.

Above all, i think its in my hand how much stress i want to take about work. Now i have learnt few techniques around work management as well (e.g. no multitasking, proper task management and no verbal assignments) and its helping me to keep the stress low as well.

I feel its a good decision to return to work because it makes you feel more active and normal so please go ahead for it but in a very controlled and planned way.

redimps profile image
redimps in reply to AnkurKapoor

Thank you so much for your response. It sounds as though you have managed to keep any stress to the minimum and the phased hours sound good. I agree that to go back is good as it gives back some sort of normality.

TRST profile image
TRST in reply to AnkurKapoor

I like this post 🙂

Redimps - if it suits you to give up a job you don't necessarily enjoy, and you can manage without the income, then that could be a good reason for giving up work completely. You could spend your time doing things that you DO enjoy.

If you want to go back to work however, I agree that boundaries are essential. With my work, as it has evolved and changed over the years, so have my boundaries and requirements to enable me to continue doing what I enjoy doing. And as AnkurKapoor points out, it can make us "feel more active and normal" so long as we do our best to keep stress and pressure out of the equation.

With a staged return to work (if that's possible with your job) you can be in control of each step and only go further as and when you can manage it. It's important to be clear in your own mind what you can and cannot do at this moment. It may change as time goes on, but you don't want to knacker yourself by saying yes to things too soon, or conversely be wrapping yourself in unnecessary cotton wool.

Good luck!

redimps profile image
redimps in reply to TRST

Thanks - I agree with all that has been said and as AnkurKapoor made me realise it is in my hands as to how much work stress I allow into my life. I think I need to learn to say no a little more although if I am honest the thought of going back fills me with dread so maybe not the best thing to do but am trying to balance that with getting back to a little normality.

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