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
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
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
- 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
- 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.