For Family and Caregivers

How Family Members and Caregivers Feel

Having a heart attack or being diagnosed with heart disease can have a big emotional impact on family members and caregivers as well. You can feel frightened, angry and even feel guilty. It is important not to let these feelings build and to get help and support.

At any time during the hospital stay, please feel free to discuss these feelings with a doctor or nurse. We can help you obtain support from an advanced practice nurse, clergy, social worker or other health care professional who specializes in providing families with this type of emotional support.

At anytime of the day or night you can speak with a nursing coordinator who can help answer your questions and provide support to you and your family.

Caring for Yourself

As a caregiver, it is important that you take time to look after yourself. You need to get proper nutrition and rest both during the hospital period and after. The additional stress of supporting your loved one through a cardiac event can make you even more tired and possibly more at risk for catching a cold, etc.

Sometimes family members feel that they have to be with their loved one at all times when they are in hospital. This is the best time for you to get rested and prepare for your family member to return home. Please be assured that the attending doctor or nurse will contact you should there be any change in your loved one’s condition.

Will Your Partner or Family Member Ever Be the Same?

It is important to remind yourself that the majority of people who are treated at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute for a heart attack or who are diagnosed with angina or coronary artery blockages, return to their normal lives within a couple of months.

Having heart disease does mean making some lifestyle changes to prevent reoccurrence, but these changes are positive for the whole family. In many cases, our patients and families lead more active and healthy lives!

Helpful Tips for Family and Caregivers

  • Conserve your energy. Housework and other projects can wait.
  • Rest when your partner rests.
  • Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Get outside whenever possible, especially when your partner starts walking.
    Fresh air and exercise are good for you, too!
  • Plan occasional breaks away with family and friends.

See Caregiver Resources for more information.