Heart Disease Diagnosis Stressful for Spouses, Too
WebMD News Archive
"Distress is a normal reaction to a serious event like a heart
attack," she says. "Ideally, there needs to be help for family members
and spouses so they can adjust to heart disease."
The spouses of patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation, especially
younger women, should be screened for distress, O'Farrell and her colleagues
conclude in their article. "Those in distress should be offered
interventions focused on assisting them to deal with specific stressors related
to their experience," they write.
Stress management techniques, and general counseling aimed at teaching
coping skills such as problem solving, may help spouses, they write.
As it is, family members of heart patients receive little counseling or help
in coping from doctors or other health care professionals. A previous study
found that how well a patient copes physically and mentally with heart disease
depends on his or her spouse's ability to cope with the situation. What's more,
research has shown that heart patients with strong support from family members
do better than those without such support, the authors of the new study point
Leona Hudson, a 53-year-old resident of Kemptville, Ontario, was fortunate
enough to receive counseling when her husband, Dave, 57, was first diagnosed
with heart disease.
Hudson was shocked when doctors told her that Dave needed a triple bypass,
the surgical removal of blockages in three heart arteries. "He had never
been sick, so it was a complete shock when we found out," she tells WebMD.
"Now the doctors say it is a result of a genetic condition, so our two sons
will need to be tested."
The hospital where Dave received surgery offered her counseling and other
services to help her cope with her husband's illness and what it means to her
and the rest of the family, she says.
Her advice to other spouses is to take advantage of any counseling services
the hospital has to offer, and to "talk to whomever will listen and let it
all out; don't keep anything inside."
- A new study finds that wives of heart disease patients experience distress,
especially younger wives in their early 50s.
- Learning stress management techniques and coping skills may help such
- Earlier research has shown that patients with spouses who cope well with
the disease do better physically and emotionally.