Devastating emotional impact of heart attack revealed

12 January 2015        

Man clutching chest being comforted by a woman

Our new survey results reveal the devastating impact of heart attacks on people’s lives. We are urging the nation to host a fundraising event on 6 February in support of our life saving heart research.

Today's figures – based on responses from heart attack survivors and family members - show that many of the UK’s one million heart attack survivors, and their loved ones, are struggling to come to terms with changes to their day-to-day lives, including their relationships and working life.

A survey of heart attack survivors, carried out by our magazine Heart Matters, shows that three-quarters of people that have survived a heart attack feel it has had a negative impact on their emotional health and wellbeing. Nearly half of survivors say they have felt low or depressed about their heart attack and the life-changing impact of a heart attack is also felt by family members.

Two in five family members surveyed said that they now live in constant fear of their loved one having another heart attack. A heart attack also forces many loved ones to change their own lives, with one in ten saying they’ve had to give up work to care for a loved one and nearly a third saying they feel trapped by the after effects. 

There are around 175,000 heart attacks in the UK each year – meaning someone suffers a heart attack every three minutes. Largely due to BHF-funded research, new treatments over the last 50 years mean that seven in ten people now survive, but there is currently no way to reverse the damage caused by a heart attack. This means that hundreds of thousands of people are living with the devastating, debilitating and often deadly effects of heart failure.

Young child dressed as a red dragon for Wear it. Beat it.

More research is needed to prevent people suffering heart attacks and to improve the treatments for resulting conditions including heart failure, for which there is currently no cure.

February is Heart Month and on 6 February we are urging the nation to Wear it. Beat it. by hosting an event to raise vital funds for our research to improve the lives of people that have suffered a heart attack or other heart condition.

The BHF desperately needs your support to help us continue the fight against heart disease and build on the success of the last 50 years.

Professor Peter Weissberg
Our Medical Director

Professor Peter Weissberg, our Medical Director said:

“The BHF desperately needs your support to help us continue the fight against heart disease and build on the success of the last 50 years. On 6 February, we’re urging everyone to get behind Wear it. Beat it. by hosting their own fundraising event. By doing this, you’ll be helping us make the research breakthroughs that could save many more lives.”

Julie Bartlett, 55, is a personal trainer from Northfleet in Kent. Her husband, Edward, had a heart attack when their children were out of the country.

Julie said:

"The worst part of Edward’s heart attack was telling the children - That was more emotional than anything. I never thought my family would be affected by heart disease but I know now that anyone’s life can be changed by this. That’s why on 6 February I’m doing a sponsored Red Spin Class at my gym for Wear it. Beat it.”

BHF Professor Paul Riley, who leads the BHF Oxbridge Centre of Regenerative Medicine at the University of Oxford, said:

"Thanks to BHF supporters’ donations towards our research, we’ve already shown that some heart cells can regenerate - now we want to teach the heart to repair itself after a heart attack. If our research is successful, we could save and improve thousands of lives.”

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We fund ground breaking research right across the UK. Find out more about our live saving heart research.