Many people do not recognise the warning signs and symptoms of their first cardiac event. They often will only realise that they have a condition when an emergency situation arises and they find themselves in hospital. Overall, the experience people have at the hospital is usually positive.
People were then referred to a rehab program following their stay in hospital. This generally happened within a month, but for others it took longer and the wait was distressing. Rehab itself was positive, with a wide variety of topics from lifestyle education diet, relationships and exercise covered. During this time however, many patients are at their weakest, both physically and emotionally.
When the rehab program ended, patients found that there wasn't much communication or contact from the cardiologist. Patients were felt uncertain about what to do when they experienced certain symptoms. They would sometimes end up calling emergency services to see if what they were experiencing was OK, as there as no-one else available to talk to without having to wait.
During this time, many people can no longer work or drive. They are also managing a lot of new medications daily. As a result of all of this, people struggled with their mental health during this time.
From speaking with patients, and analysing our survey data, we were able to understand people's pain points during their cardiac rehab journey. People have said that they did not have enough support from professionals, and those without a close family would have liked a support group.
Having regular checkups with a trusted professional during their rehabilitation program and continuing into their maintenance phase, would help to put patients' minds at ease. The ability to discuss their medication lifestyle choices, blood pressure readings and heart rate with a professional, instead of relying on guesswork, could help to relieve some of the metal burden patients face. Putting patients in touch with others who are in a similar situation could help give some patients additional support during this time.