7 helpline tips for rebuilding confidence after heart problems

BHF helpline nurse

The Heart Matters helpline handles hundreds of calls every week from people who have been through a heart attack or other heart event. Here are tips from some of our experienced cardiac nurses and heart health advisors on getting your confidence back.

1. Set small, short term goals after an event like a heart attack or heart bypass 

Even if your daily goal is just to walk to the bottom of the garden so that you’ve had some fresh air and daylight, this can make all the difference to your mood in the early days of recovery. 

2. Expect that some days will be better than others and that you will experience some down days

This can be a normal part of recovery, unless it continues over a longer period of time.

3. Get out of the house

Trying to get social contact planned into your recovery is very important

If possible, arrange meet-ups with friends so that you have an ‘appointment’ you have to keep which gets you to leave the house and have some social interaction outside your immediate family and health professionals.

Trying to get social contact planned into your recovery is very important. It can really help to talk about other people’s lives and help stop you becoming too inward looking - which can easily happen if you just stay in the house.

4. If it’s offered, do attend cardiac rehabilitation

Find out more about cardiac rehabilitation.

5. Don’t stop living because you are frightened you’ll have another heart attack

One of the biggest issues is that many people we speak to after a heart attack are frightened that it will happen again. This can stop them doing things in the future.

This doesn’t have to be the case – see our guide to what you can do when. In many cases, once you have recovered you can live a normal life and do most or all of the things you used to do.

6. It’s ok to do gentle exercise

We often hear about family members being worried that their loved one is doing too much, and we explain this is because they want to feel like everything is back to normal.

Most patients want to know what they can do whilst waiting for their cardiac rehab to begin, as it’s not always explained by the doctor. We suggest walking, as this is good gentle exercise and will get you outside.

7. But don’t do too much

One lady who called the Helpline decided she was feeling so good after only a couple days of recovery after her heart attack that she should spring clean her whole flat, including cleaning the oven. She was then completely burnt out for days afterwards, which had really knocked her confidence as she realised that her body didn’t currently have its previous stamina.

We talked about what she would normally like to do if she was off work, which was visiting exhibitions and museums, so we suggested walking to any that were nearby so she could rest once she’d got there before and have a sit down after wandering round. That way she was out of house and getting some light exercise with planned breaks, while also being out of the house and feeling more like her old self.

Contact our Heart Matters Helpline on [email protected] or call 0300 330 3300.

More useful information