The purpose of this study was to explore any patterns that may be evident in the experiences of 20 patients and their partners 1 month after a first heart attack An interpretive research approach was used to illuminate the illness experience of patients and its impact on their partners Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the participants, and qualitative analysis of the data revealed six major categories These were expectations about advice and information, feelings about the future, reactions of the partner, playing down the significance of the heart attack, wanting to get back to normal, and the effect on the couple's relationship These findings are discussed in relation to the theoretical literature and other empirical research The results of this study may provide pointers to the implications for practice of nurses, particularly on ways to improve support for patients and their partners during early convalescence