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Coronary Artery Disease: Helping a Loved One

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How can I help a loved one who has coronary artery disease?

If you have a family member or other loved one who has coronary artery disease (CAD) or has just returned home from the hospital due to a complication of CAD, you may want to know what you can do to help. Your loved one may be able to do fewer normal activities and may also need a great deal of encouragement and emotional support. This article provides some guidelines on helping with daily activities and offering emotional support to loved ones who are recovering from CAD-related hospitalization.

What if CAD turns into end-stage heart failure?

Your loved one may need special assistance if CAD leads to heart failure. Heart failure typically results in a weakened heart, one that cannot pump blood in sufficient quantities to the body. Often, people with end-stage heart failure are not able to perform all the tasks and activities that they did in the past with ease. And they may rely on you for both emotional support and physical assistance. As you read this article, you may want to think about how you may help a loved one in either situation: recovery from a CAD-related hospital stay or the later stages of heart failure.

How can I help with daily activities?

People who have CAD may have a lot of physical limitations because of chest pain or shortness of breath with exertion or because of severe weakness. These people may rely on others for help with relatively simple but important tasks. If your loved one experiences trouble with daily activities, you and your family may choose to assume a large role in managing his or her day-to-day life. Some of the ways in which you can help are listed below.

  • Shopping for and preparing food. Most people recovering from surgery cannot leave their house on their own to shop for food and therefore depend on others for what they eat. If you can, ask neighbors and friends to help with grocery shopping. Also, you may be closely involved in the preparation of all low-fat, low-cholesterol food for your loved one during recovery at home.
  • Providing a clean environment. Cleaning the house may be too difficult during recovery. But a clean environment can be important for both mood and health (to prevent infections). Caregivers should consider cleaning the house regularly or hiring a maid service. Also, the temperature and humidity of the home should be controlled as precisely as possible. The physical discomforts of recovery from surgery often get worse during hot, humid days, and air conditioners should be used during the summer, if possible.
  • Driving. For the first 3 to 6 weeks after surgery, or if your loved one can no longer drive because of chest pain, irregular heartbeats, fainting spells, or other complications of CAD-related heart failure, you may need to drive him or her to frequent doctor appointments.
  • Medicines. Most people with severe heart disease require multiple medicines to control their symptoms. Having a family member organize medicines into a special pillbox with one or more compartments for each day of the week can prevent the person from forgetting to take any medicines or taking them incorrectly.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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