Caring for someone who has had a heart attack

If your loved one has had a heart attack, there will be a lot of change and uncertainty immediately following their hospital discharge.

It may take some time for your relationship to get back to normal but there are practical things you can do to improve your partner's health after they get home.

It can be helpful in the short-term for you to do jobs like filling prescriptions and so on, especially while your loved one is not allowed to drive. However, sooner rather than later, it's healthy for your loved one to take responsibility for managing their own medication routines and maintaining healthier lifestyle habits.

Find out more about helping your loved one return to normal activities.

Support your loved one to make changes

After a heart attack, it's recommended that to improve your loved one's recovery and lower their risk of having another heart attack, they make some lifestyle changes.

People who live together often have similar habits. Why not change these as a family/whānau? You can support each other. Try working together to set goals and make a plan for change.

If you do a lot of the shopping and cooking for your household, you may like to explore our healthy eating section to learn how to read food labels and for heart healthy recipes.

Managing your own health

Caring for a loved one throughout their initial recovery after a heart attack can be demanding both physically and mentally. Make sure that you take time for yourself. If you allow yourself to burn out, you are putting both your own and your loved one's health and wellbeing at risk.

For more information and support to look after your own health, check out carers.net.nz.

Medical terms for heart attack

A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI). These terms refer to changes in the heart muscle (myocardium) due to a lack of blood and oxygen in that area. The main change is death of the heart muscle.

You may also hear the terms STEMI (a heart attack involving damage to the full thickness of the heart muscle) or NSTEMI (a heart attack that doesn’t involve the full thickness of the heart muscle).
 

Worried about how to support your loved one? Check out some of the ways other families have managed to support each other after a heart event.

Get tips from other carers