I joined a heart support group

Paul1, 65, has recently retired from running his own IT business. After a heart attack eight years ago, he was inspired to adopt a new social circle.

‘For months, I put the pain in my chest down to indigestion. I was fit and healthy, I played tennis every week – I wasn’t exactly your “typical” heart attack candidate.

‘It was only one Monday morning, when I climbed the stairs at work and the pain started to creep down my arm, that I admitted it might be more serious and took myself to A&E. Like lightning, I was on a trolley having an ECG and, within three hours, they said I’d had a heart attack. Two weeks later, I had three stents inserted into my plaque-blocked artery.

‘At first, we were all in shock. My family and I just couldn’t get our heads around it all. I was in denial and at my Cardiac Rehab sessions, I consistently tried to run before I could walk, even though they warned me that exercising too hard, too fast, could cause more damage.

My turning point

‘It was only once I had “graduated” from rehab that things started to change. I heard about a local heart support group from friends I’d made during my sessions. My wife and I started attending their social events and monthly group walks. Before we knew it, we had a whole new social life. I got more benefit from my new friendships than I got from one-to-one counselling. Without me realising it, my new community helped me overcome the deep-seated fears I’d been carrying around – that my heart attack meant the end of my life. I realised it was, in fact, the beginning. My new life started here.

‘I cut down my work to three days a week and soon became a committee member at the club; then the patient representative for our local hospital cardiology team. It’s become a huge part of my life. I’m heavily involved in helping other people who’ve been through heart attacks, and I feel much happier and healthier myself as a result. 

My advice…

‘Try to make contact with others who’ve been through the same experiences as you. Talking to people who understand what you’ve been through can really help.’


Find out more about getting support after a heart attack


1Names have been changed