How a heart attack can trigger PTSD

 by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

This guest post was originally posted online by Holly Strawbridge of Harvard Health Publications on June 25, 2012.

Joep Roosen Amsterdam A heart attack is a life-changing event. For some people, surviving a heart attack brings renewed appreciation for life. For others, the event is so traumatic that worrying about having a second heart attack consumes their lives.

By the latest account, one in eight heart attack survivors experiences a reaction called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although PTSD is usually associated with extreme trauma such as war, rape or a natural disaster, heart attack survivors can experience the same key symptoms: flashbacks that occur as nightmares or intrusive thoughts. As a result, the survivor actively tries to avoid being reminded of the event and becomes hyper-vigilant worrying that it will happen again.  

It’s a high price to pay for having your life spared.   Continue reading “How a heart attack can trigger PTSD”

A foreshortened future

heart cloud

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters

Cardiac psychologist and heart attack survivor Dr. Stephen Parker recently described a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that rang a bell for him after his own cardiac event. The PTSD symptom is called “a sense of a foreshortened future“. In other words, after a traumatic event – in this case, a heart attack – the patient “does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span.”  As Dr. Steve tells his own story of this symptom:

“Three months after the heart attack, I went to Home Depot to buy something for the house. I walked inside, saw the plethora of nice things to make a nice house, and started feeling extremely depressed.

“What was the point? I knew I was going to die within a short time.   Continue reading “A foreshortened future”