Heart Disease: Let’s Talk About the Emotional Side

Posted by Kanaaz Pereira, Connect Moderator @kanaazpereira, Mon, Mar 9 10:14am

Recovery from a cardiovascular event is not easy; it’s not just the physical pain–the emotional pain can be an unexpected challenge. Depression, anxiety, fatigue, feelings of guilt, emotional distress are common repercussions of heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure or heart surgery.

Talking with people who’ve gone through a similar experience can help make sense of the emotional and psychological aspects of heart disease. Connect is a place where such honest conversations can safely take place, where you can learn to feel better, together. I invite you to share your thoughts and emotions.
How has a heart-related diagnosis/treatment affected your mind and mood? How did you cope with these emotions? What strategies and tips would you offer a friend who’s going through a similar experience?

@miracleman

I've personally experienced the depression following all 3 of my open heart surgeries. Fortunately, the docs and nurses warned me that it was probably going to happen and to just ride it out knowing it would go away. I think it lasted about 6 weeks with me. So, after the next 2 open hearts I knew to expect it. In talking with many people who have gone through open surgeries, I've found that this is not often discussed prior to the surgery. I'm going through it right now after having my 11 stent placed in my heart in January. It's different than the "after open heart depression" but nonetheless, still very real.
I'm just trying to "ride it out" hoping it will pass soon. I fortunately have a very loving, supportive wife that has been my sounding board.

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miracleman,
Thanks for sharing your experience. Though I do not recall depression as being part of my recovery from the quad bypass I experienced almost 5 years ago, I do recall working hard to feel better physically. I was given loads of support by my son who became my chauffeur and main cheer leader. I also recall being told I'd go to cardiac rehab and never got the call from the one where my cardiologist, but did get directed to the closest one by the nurse running the gym close to my cardiologist. I did my 36 visits and have benefitted from this.

Perhaps it is time, if you haven't returned to the support at the cardiac rehab gym near you, to go back. AND 11 stents are a heavy load to slogs through. I find your journey to be admirable.

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@lailaamin

I am one of the patients that food many times cause the onset of my dizziness. It is usually carbs that causes it.There is going to be an article written for the JAMA on this so more doctors become aware. I had my septal myectomy on October 1, 2019 at the Mayo with Dr. Schaff. I am completely free of any of those symptoms I had before. Although postop is not easy, It was the best decision I ever made

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Thanks. That makes at least 3 of us in this group who have a pattern between, HOCM, eating and symptoms. Any others?

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@captainterry

Thanks. That makes at least 3 of us in this group who have a pattern between, HOCM, eating and symptoms. Any others?

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It's comforting to think that you may be weird or maybe crazy…and then read on this board I may not be alone in my weirdness. I have noted in the past year or so, if I eat a 'robust' meal, the fun kind of food, mostly carbs or heavy like say a hamburger and fries, or biscuits and gravy with a mimosa, I get pain and/or tightness in my chest, a tight constricting like feeling in my neck, tachycardia, dizzy or like a head rush and feel generally bad. I thought it was just me, but I have seen it mentioned before. Interesting symptom to dietary indiscretion. It doesn't seem to have a preference; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not every meal or every day.

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@karukgirl

It's comforting to think that you may be weird or maybe crazy…and then read on this board I may not be alone in my weirdness. I have noted in the past year or so, if I eat a 'robust' meal, the fun kind of food, mostly carbs or heavy like say a hamburger and fries, or biscuits and gravy with a mimosa, I get pain and/or tightness in my chest, a tight constricting like feeling in my neck, tachycardia, dizzy or like a head rush and feel generally bad. I thought it was just me, but I have seen it mentioned before. Interesting symptom to dietary indiscretion. It doesn't seem to have a preference; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not every meal or every day.

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I ate sausage, biscuits and gravy the other morning and then later in day experienced the same symptoms but on top of that am also diabetic.

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@karukgirl

It's comforting to think that you may be weird or maybe crazy…and then read on this board I may not be alone in my weirdness. I have noted in the past year or so, if I eat a 'robust' meal, the fun kind of food, mostly carbs or heavy like say a hamburger and fries, or biscuits and gravy with a mimosa, I get pain and/or tightness in my chest, a tight constricting like feeling in my neck, tachycardia, dizzy or like a head rush and feel generally bad. I thought it was just me, but I have seen it mentioned before. Interesting symptom to dietary indiscretion. It doesn't seem to have a preference; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not every meal or every day.

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I was diagnoses with HOCM May of 1999, and I notice more palpitations after eating a larger meal. Heart rate increases as well, but no other symptoms. I thought I was crazy weird, relieved to find I'm not the only one.

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@kanaazpereira

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It’s not easy to find a place where you can have a honest, non-judgmental discussion about the emotional side of heart disease. I invite you to do that here. Whether you are someone diagnosed with a heart disorder, or have undergone heart-related procedures, or are caring for someone with heart disease, I’d love to welcome you to this conversation.

How did you manage the emotional experience of being a heart patient? Perhaps you’re trying to understand emotions that you’ve not felt before? How has this affected your everyday life? Do you have any suggestions or tips that might be helpful to a new patient? Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, tea or a beverage you like, and let’s connect.

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@kanaazpereira – Sorry, just now getting to the topic you posted.
I have shared bits & pieces of this story over several posts, but will give this a go and try to be not overly wordy.
Shock, unbelief, crazy are just a few words to describe my initial experience that faithful day in May of 2014.
I had just finished my typical 1.3 hr. workout that Monday and headed home to clean up and grab a bite before returning to work.
As I was about to sit down to eat the lunch my wife had set out I started feeling very flush, sweating a bit and then the pain moved up my left arm and then accross my chest. I decided to sit in my favorite chair in the LR for a moment to pause and think about what I was feeling. My wife followed me in and asked if I was OK. My response was no and I think I'm having a HA!
She expressed her unbelief just as I had and asked me are you sure? I remember reading in a reader's digest once that if you think you are having a HA grab several baby aspirins and chew on them. She quickly got some for me and we prayed for wisdom for that moment. We decided to drive up to our ER just about a 20 minute ride. No more than 10 minutes into the drive I had wished we had called an ambulance (definitely that would have been the right decision!) I asked my wife if she could drive faster please and she responded that if I go any faster I'm going to run into someone! My response was to just go over them!
The pain was excruciating and I felt any moment I was going to pass out!
We arrived in front of the ER and I was met by someone with a wheelchair immediately. I was rushed into the hospital and rather than rush me into the ER they rolled me into a business office where a nice woman started asking me all sorts of questions.
I stopped and said please mam I think I am having a HA! At this point I was in tears and things moved quickly as they rolled me into an ER room and started plugging me into all kinds of machines. I talked with the Cardiologist briefly and after getting the pain under control they proceeded with the several typical tests. My wife joined me and we were both told that I was not presenting any real signs of having a HA, but he decided they wuld admit me and do a stess test in the morning. My wife decided to run home to grab a few things for me and text our good friends to ask the to pray.
Soon after the Cardiologist left the room a Echo Tech arrived and started performing an echo. Within a few minutes he quickly left the room and returned just as fast with the Cardiologist in tow. Things at that point proceeded very quickly and after procuring a team of doctors I was run into the Cath Lab and received a stent in my LAD. I had just survived "the Widow Maker" with 100% blockage of my LAD.
I started not long after this ordeal with Cardio Rehab and because I was accustomed with much of the exercise equipement I relished being alive and got to work. I felt very secure there because it was just down the hall from the Cardiology Dept..
I was told by my Cardiologist early on that my heart had suffered damage to the lack of blood getting to a portion of my heart and he talked about a term I was not familiar with called Ejection Fraction (EF). Mine was at about 30% and he told me that often within the 1st year that will increase. Once complete with Cardio Rehab I get permission to go back to my Gym and I was on a quest to get the blood flowing again and increase my EF.
I was feeling great and it almost seemed sureal at times that I had really experienced this.
After the 1st year I had another Echo and met days later with my Cardiologist. I could'nt almost wait for him to read the Echo and tell how much progress I had made! Much to my surprise I was presented with something I had not anticipated. My EF was about the same!
From that point on although thankful I was alive, I was not expecting what I was told after working so hard over that last year!
I began to feel like "damaged goods"! That feeling really took over me and it was often a real battle. I had been working out nearly 3x a week for years and out of the blue w/o any warning Boom! Seemed like my life was forever changed!
Year 2 came and once again I had another Echo with the same results. I was really bummed!
I decided that since we spend most of the month of April in Tucson, AZ. I was going to get a 2nd opinion from the Scottsdale, AZ. Mayo. I made the appt. and several months later we were there and I met Dr. Lynch. I had a whole series of tests they had set up and he informed me that he would be with me for most of the time. The last test I took that day was a stress Echo and as promised Dr. Lynch was there. He pushed me hard on the Treadmill and I had these monitors in front of me that he was watching while he cheered me on. He would ask can you keep going and I would say yes and before I knew it I had broke a HR of 150 whearas in the last 2 years of doing cardio the highest I had been able to get was 137. He had me drop down on the bed where the tech continued the echo and the whole time Dr. Lynch kept saying great pictures! You did great! I was ecstatic!!
We met about a 1/2 hr. latter in his office and he told me that it would take him a few days to get final results, but he was assured that my EF was much higher than 130. We left a day later to return home to OR and as promised Dr. Lynch wrote me a email stating that my EF was in fact 145.
I tell you this story to encourage you and perhaps get a second opinion.
I nor any of you are damaged goods! We are all God's children and are deeply loved.
I can't say enough about the Mayo Clinic and their Drs., Nurses and Staff!
I will always be eternally thankful for their care.
Jim@thankful

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@karukgirl

It's comforting to think that you may be weird or maybe crazy…and then read on this board I may not be alone in my weirdness. I have noted in the past year or so, if I eat a 'robust' meal, the fun kind of food, mostly carbs or heavy like say a hamburger and fries, or biscuits and gravy with a mimosa, I get pain and/or tightness in my chest, a tight constricting like feeling in my neck, tachycardia, dizzy or like a head rush and feel generally bad. I thought it was just me, but I have seen it mentioned before. Interesting symptom to dietary indiscretion. It doesn't seem to have a preference; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not every meal or every day.

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I think your body may be trying to tell you something. Try a better, healthier diet.

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@jimsfree2

I ate sausage, biscuits and gravy the other morning and then later in day experienced the same symptoms but on top of that am also diabetic.

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WIth heart issues, we can't eat like that anymore!!!!

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@jimsfree2, @twojunes2– I wholeheartily agree with you @twojunes2. Going through Cardio Rehab after my HA part of what we learned from a excellent Dietician was the need to eat better. Although I was doing that for the most part one can always learn lots and I have. She recommended a book called Good Food Great Medicine by a noted Cardiologist and daughter Miles Hassell MD and Mea Hassell that is a combination of Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle Guide. I've used it through these last several years not only for great recipes, but also lots of down to earth wisdom.
It's available on Amazon. Check it out! Jim@thankful

Liked by estrada53

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@lailaamin

I am one of the patients that food many times cause the onset of my dizziness. It is usually carbs that causes it.There is going to be an article written for the JAMA on this so more doctors become aware. I had my septal myectomy on October 1, 2019 at the Mayo with Dr. Schaff. I am completely free of any of those symptoms I had before. Although postop is not easy, It was the best decision I ever made

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Could you describe your symptoms that you had before surgery. How often did you have them? Daily, several times a day? Wharry did you do to relieve your symptoms before your surgery? What foods made them worse? Better? Symptoms relieved after your surgery? So, many questions. Looking for answers of what symptoms are from HOCM, and what symptoms are from other possibilities of disease (s) not yet diagnosed. Appreciate feedback. Thanks.

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@lailaamin

I am one of the patients that food many times cause the onset of my dizziness. It is usually carbs that causes it.There is going to be an article written for the JAMA on this so more doctors become aware. I had my septal myectomy on October 1, 2019 at the Mayo with Dr. Schaff. I am completely free of any of those symptoms I had before. Although postop is not easy, It was the best decision I ever made

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I also had my septal myectomy on October 1, 2019 also with Dr. Schaff. I too are completely free of any symptoms I had before. I stayed in the hospital for either 4 or 5 days and stayed in Rochester for 3 more days. Then saw a doctor before I left. I flew home to California and I was fine. Yes they are supposed to have an article in the JAMA regarding worse symptoms after eating, for carbs usually make your symptoms much worse. Post op was not easy for sure but it was so worth it. (I found a recliner chair which I purchased before I left for Rochester) to be a game changer for the first few weeks. It was hard getting out of my bed. It took about 8 years to finally diagnose me. I really suffered for those years. I went in with a very positive attitude knowing it was at the Mayo Clinic and Doctor Schaff. They are wonderful at St. Mary's Hospital. Do everything they tell you to do .They do a couple of hundred of these a year so they know what they are doing. This surgery has changed my life. I started cardio rehab a few weeks later. With this pandemic there are no gyms so I am walking 2-3 miles 5 times a week. What a difference excercise makes. I wish you all well with your health.
Linda

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@lailaamin

I also had my septal myectomy on October 1, 2019 also with Dr. Schaff. I too are completely free of any symptoms I had before. I stayed in the hospital for either 4 or 5 days and stayed in Rochester for 3 more days. Then saw a doctor before I left. I flew home to California and I was fine. Yes they are supposed to have an article in the JAMA regarding worse symptoms after eating, for carbs usually make your symptoms much worse. Post op was not easy for sure but it was so worth it. (I found a recliner chair which I purchased before I left for Rochester) to be a game changer for the first few weeks. It was hard getting out of my bed. It took about 8 years to finally diagnose me. I really suffered for those years. I went in with a very positive attitude knowing it was at the Mayo Clinic and Doctor Schaff. They are wonderful at St. Mary's Hospital. Do everything they tell you to do .They do a couple of hundred of these a year so they know what they are doing. This surgery has changed my life. I started cardio rehab a few weeks later. With this pandemic there are no gyms so I am walking 2-3 miles 5 times a week. What a difference excercise makes. I wish you all well with your health.
Linda

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What symptoms did you experience and how often, before your surgery? What did you do to relieve symptoms once ther began? Did they last hours, most of the day? What food did you eat to lessen symptoms? How did you get through it all?

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@angiev18

What symptoms did you experience and how often, before your surgery? What did you do to relieve symptoms once ther began? Did they last hours, most of the day? What food did you eat to lessen symptoms? How did you get through it all?

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I was on the tennis court and from nowhere I got so out of breath. It took about an hour to recover. It’s starting to happen over and over again as I exerted myself. Because I couldn’t get diagnosed properly it got worse and worse. IT got to the point several years later that I couldn’t walk across the room without getting out of breath. We did move to San Diego where the health care was so much better. In the last couple of years it was so bad I had to hold on to a shopping cart in the market I couldn’t do much of anything. Eating carbs made it even worse. My cardiologist here did diagnose me with HOCM wanted me to go to the mayo clinic for a second opinion. While I was at the mayo clinic they found my gradient was up over 100. I really had no life and was very depressed about it. I felt I really have no choice but to have the surgery and it was the best decision I ever made. I was told by Dr Schaffer’s I had HCM my whole life and had no knowledge or symptoms until it became obstructed. I hope this helps. Be well

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@angiev18

What symptoms did you experience and how often, before your surgery? What did you do to relieve symptoms once ther began? Did they last hours, most of the day? What food did you eat to lessen symptoms? How did you get through it all?

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Sorry my typing is terrible. The doctors name is Schaff. It was spelled incorrectly in my last post

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@lailaamin , One of my life-long problems is HCM. Mine was first diagnosed at about age 15. I am now 80, and still have it, but I know now it is part of my systemic hereditary Gelsolin (Meretoja's, Finnish Amyloidosis), with RyR2 and FKTN and some other stuff. Now this is not to say this might be your problem as well, just that it is mine, complete with a couple dozen stents, total 30 heart caths, 2 CABG with 7 repair sections. Every organ, tissue and liquid I have has been impacted by this. Anyway, a low-carb diet, hi-exercise regimen, along with a constant growth of knowledge of what I have has been a lifesaver for me. Frankly, I have had to do most of it on my own, because of the emotional cost of the failed medical care we all seem to receive. Only the various images (CT, X-Ray, Echo, MRI, ECG, etc) have actually been trustworthy, so I rely in this evidence and some very good lab work from Mayo, Alnylam, Ambry Genetics for functional diagnoses. But even that is argued against by doctors who are extremely jealous of the top labs. So I completely agree there is a terrible emotional toll on HCM and other cardiology patients. I have had to struggle with temptations of suicide many times, to each time I have to go back to the materials I have collected over the years that show the reality of my issues. I bought Dr. Gertz big book on Amyloidosis, so several big clinics refused to see me any more because I had consulted with Minnesota Mayo. Well, actually, I did drive by a building of theirs about 40 years ago. Getting old with HCM and all the other signs of Gelsolin is not a pleasant life.

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