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Investigating support needs for people living with heart disease



Aim and objectives

To identify the issues that required ongoing support for people who have completed a cardiac rehabilitation programme.


Surviving a serious cardiac event is a stressful and traumatic experience, often resulting in major changes in a person's lifestyle, work, finances and family dynamics. Individuals who have experienced a cardiac event and completed a cardiac rehabilitation programme may require ongoing support. The issues requiring support are unclear.


A qualitative, descriptive study.


Nine participants, who were at least four weeks postcompletion of a cardiac rehabilitation programme, were interviewed. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis.


The participants in this project clearly articulated that informational, psychological and social supports were imperative in enabling recovery from a serious cardiac event. Even though participation in a cardiac rehabilitation programme is seen as being very valuable, there is a need for ongoing support to absorb shock, maintain lifestyle changes and navigate a new way of life.


This study highlights the gap in ongoing support for people postparticipation in cardiac rehabilitation programmes and the need for different levels of support during their recovery. Agencies such as Heart Foundation are well placed to facilitate connections between people living with heart disease and available support programmes and services. Initiatives that link individuals to community-run, peer-led support groups, walking and exercise programmes would be especially valuable.

Relevance to clinical practice

Individuals who have experienced an acute cardiac event need ongoing support across the recovery continuum. Consideration needs to be given to care models that address this need including exploring the potential of peer support.