Heart attack

Once a patient has had a heart attack, they will need to recover before making major lifestyle changes. This is a time when they and their family are confused and may feel isolated. Often there is a delay before a follow-up appointment takes place, and each day the family and the patient are unsure about how much activity should be undertaken.

To fill a gap, the cardiac rehabilitation team at UHNM set up an open Facebook site, where patients and their relatives could find practical information.

Alternatively, the British Heart Foundation or NHS: Home have useful information.

Patients often feel that once they are in a rehabilitation programme, they welcome contact via Facebook with other patients in a similar situation, and the UHNM closed Facebook group for cardiac rehabilitation can provide peer support with professional oversight. One aspect which is often repeated is that relatives are already suffering enough with changes to the family / income / expectations of the future, etc, and they don’t need to hear the fears and frustrations of the patient. However, other patients are prepared to listen and offer advice and support, and Facebook can take this conversation out of the family environment, allowing recovery to take place without some of the emotional difficulties that otherwise may occur.

Lifestyle changes can be helped by programmes such as Flo, where different aspects of poor lifestyle habits can be addressed, such as general activity, weight, smoking cessation, healthy eating, reduced alcohol consumption, and control of blood pressure. Wearable technology, such as Fitbits, or even simpler pedometers can help motivate people to change their lifestyle.

Apps such as Active 10 walking tracker, Evergreen Life, Sugar Smart, Easy Meals, Drinks tracker, Be Food Smart, Couch to 5K, etc can also help, by being downloaded to a smartphone. Websites such as the NHS: Live well site have attractively presented information.

Patients may be reviewed by video consultation, such as Skype, where appropriate. See more information about Skype in ‘TECS in Use’.