Sometimes people forget that a heart attack is a really major event. It can often be caused by heart disease, but also can be the result of surgery gone wrong or after a loss of blood, such as after an accident.
Society as a whole is pretty ignorant about heart issues, even though heart problems are the UKs biggest single killer; we all buy in to the myth that you have an attack, you convalesce, you return to work and life is just as peachy as it always was.
Well for some people that is undoubtedly the case, although the fact that part of the heart effectively dies as part of a heart attack, makes it unlikely that life will be quite so peachy as it was before.
However, many other people find that an attack actively transforms their lives; it could be for the better or it could be for the worse, but life can seem incredibly different.
Many people who have experienced a heart attack will feel anxious, at least on some levels; it is natural. The person is scared that they will have another and that this one could be the BIG one, the final one. This is often accompanied by depression
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Around 34% of heart attack victims go on to develop at least some PTSD symptoms. That is over 1 in 3!
Many people who have had a heart attack are worried about not just having another attack, but they can be worried about life in general. Will they be able to work or will they go back to work and find that it is too much? Will their love life be affected by the attack? Will their relationship survive? All these worries are on top of the anxiety, so there is an enormous amount of stress and worry going on.
Effects on Personality:
Given that people are under such an enormous amount of pressure, it is perfectly normal that the heart attack survivor’s personality is affected; in fact it is strange when it is not!
Many people relate that after a heart attack their loved one became impatient. It is almost as if the survivor feels that time is so precious that they have no time to waste on anything, so everything needs to be done immediately.
Impatience can also be so developed that it results in the person having a very short fuse. It can be hard for partners of heart attack survivors’ to accept that their former gentle partner is now a raging bull in terms of being incredibly bad tempered.
Unwillingness to Act
Sometimes partners of heart attack victims find that their partner has become very reluctant to ‘do’ things. They will not participate in work, exercise or do things that they should actually do to try and aid convalescence. This can be linked to depression and it can be a sense of ‘What is the point, I will die anyway?’
Fear of Social Activities:
Often someone who has had a heart attack will fear social activities simply because they are fearful that they will have another attack and that they will then be stared at or the centre of attention. Instead they avoid going out to social activities, which can result in social isolation.
If you know a loved one who has had a heart attack, then try to be aware of the fact that it can impact on their personality and can result in changes to their personality. You may need some patience as well, but awareness can help and the changes can often be temporary. So it is not your imagination; personality changes really can occur after a heart attack!