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Dealing with depression after a heart attack - Ed’s story

Ed Milner, who suffered from depression after his heart attack

Ed Milner is now looking at the positives after struggling with the psychological impact of a heart attack.

Hull-based Ed Milner, 39, suffered a heart attack while visiting friends in Stockton. This led to depressive-type symptoms, which made him withdrawn.

Recalling the heart attack, he says: “It started with a burning pain in my chest and because we’d eaten late, I assumed it was heartburn. I got up to walk around but it just got worse and worse and worse.

“My friends were on the top floor of their townhouse and, by the time I got upstairs to ask for some help, the pain had become sharper in my chest and had gone up into my neck and shoulder. My friends called an ambulance, and when the paramedics arrived they did an ECG and faxed it through to the hospital. They told me that as soon as we got to hospital I’d be having a stent fitted.”

Ed says it came as a shock, particularly as he considered he had a healthy lifestyle. “It all happened so quickly. Within the space of a few hours you go from thinking you’re absolutely fine to ‘you have got to take this medication every day.’

The fact that this has happened to me at a young age means that I have the chance to turn things around

“The doctors explained what had happened and, in the days that followed, they told me about cardiac rehabilitation. It then hits home and you think ‘I’m saddled with this for life’.

“If I had led an unhealthy lifestyle you’d think that’s the reason, but I have always been an active walker and went to the gym; I didn’t smoke or drink excessively. I wasn’t prepared for being off work; I couldn’t drive; dealing with daily pills; and then the psychological aspect for someone at the age of 37 to have this.”

Period of adjustment

Months after his heart attack, Ed’s friends commented on a change in his mood, saying he was lethargic and ‘couldn’t be bothered’. It made Ed step back and consider how well he was coping. “From the point my friends mentioned it, I thought ‘Actually you’re right’.”

Ed says his friends’ comments helped him to “draw a line” and embrace a new start: “I tend to look now to the positives. The fact that this has happened to me at a young age means that I have the chance to turn things around.

“I’m going to be 40 this year, as are many of my friends, and I’m looking forward to celebrating.”

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