Families are an essential source of support for patients recovering from heart disease
Cardiovascular events can be devastating for families. Involving the partner and immediate family in the cardiac rehabilitation programme is a unique opportunity to join forces in the recovery process and make joint decisions about health adjustments.
Your partner and immediate family can be an essential source of support, encouragement and motivation when recovering from heart disease. Many couples have said the heart problem brought them closer together.
Cardiovascular events can be devastating for families, who often feel powerless and anxious about the disease, hospitalisation and treatment. Partners may be concerned about the next steps for their loved one’s health. Negative feelings may emerge including guilt (if only I …), mood swings and worries about the financial consequences. This can affect the quality of the relationship and the patient’s recovery. It is therefore crucial for family members to continue taking good care of themselves. That means sufficient sleep and relaxation, a healthy lifestyle, and doing activities they enjoy.
Partners often feel responsible for the patient’s health and ignore their own needs. They may take on extra domestic roles, try to be constantly available, and limit the patient’s activities because they are afraid of negative effects on the heart. Patients may experience this as overprotective and controlling and may hide their feelings and thoughts to protect the partner from worrying. Mutual irritation can arise, which is not beneficial for the relationship or the recovery process. Successfully adapting to living with heart disease requires being open and honest, and recognising each other’s individuality.
Involving the partner and immediate family in the cardiac rehabilitation programme is a unique opportunity to join forces in the recovery process and make joint decisions about health adjustments. After all, getting informed together about the medical aspects of the heart problem, receiving advice about healthy food, and seeing the patient progress throughout the training sessions stimulates each family member to take responsibility for their own role Some rehabilitation programmes offer a partner session, in which topics such as communication, dealing with the cardiac issue as a couple, and sexual concerns are discussed.