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Heart disease: from living to living well

25 July 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 14


Aysha Mendes, Editor, British Journal of Cardiac Nursing,, discusses support for patients living with heart disease

Living with a long-term condition has become a common occurrence in modern society and the focus has sensibly shifted from survival to achieving an optimal quality of life. Although research and guidance has often emphasised how to help patients to ‘live’, efforts are increasingly being made to discover how healthcare and lifestyle interventions can help people with long-term conditions to ‘live well’.

The first column in this series explored ways to support people with heart failure at the end of their lives (Mendes, 2019). However, many patients with a heart or circulatory condition are not at the end of their lives, and probably not even close. So how can this growing population be supported to live their best life despite their diagnosis?

One of the first aspects that should be mentioned is the psychological effect that a life-changing diagnosis can have. Diagnosis comes with its own grief stages and research shows that almost all patients experience symptoms of emotional distress when they suffer an acute cardiac event, or shortly thereafter (Murphy et al, 2016). There will also be changes to a person's day-to-day life, such as possible effects on relationships, sexual activities, working life, finances and travel.

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