Emotional Support is Key

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s new online support network offers help for patients and caregivers affected by heart disease and stroke.

By: Erin Wilder

Heart disease and stroke are our No. 1 and No. 5 greatest health threats nationally. And while on average, heart disease claims the lives of more than 990 Corpus Christi residents each year and stroke claims the lives of 140 residents, we can celebrate the fact that each year, more and more people survive heart and stroke incidents. Chances are most people know someone who has been impacted by cardiovascular diseases or stroke and is on the path to recovery. Research shows that people in recovery can heal better physically if they have support and are healing emotionally, as well.

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Having a stroke or hearing that you have heart disease and need surgery can make you feel anxious, scared and isolated. It is easy to feel alone and that no one understands what you are going through. But finding opportunities to talk and share with others who have been through the experience before can ease patients’ concerns, answer their questions and better prepare them for what’s ahead.

And it’s not just the person who had the heart attack or stroke who is impacted by this life-changing event. Family members and other caregivers also need to have strong support systems and take care of themselves to better care for their loved one. The emotional support provided by friends and family can help patients or caregivers deal with complex feelings around their diagnosis or recovery.

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The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association now offers a free, online support network, sort of a Facebook for patients and their caregivers. The goal of the network is to connect people living with heart disease and stroke with others who are going through similar journeys. It’s a place to ask questions, find helpful information and tips and share your concerns or fears. It’s also a place to find encouragement and inspiration or offer your own words of wisdom and reassurance to others. The online community is available at www.heart.org/supportnetwork. From specific topic regions such as congenital heart defects or high blood pressure, to ongoing blogs from survivors, it’s an authentic online community for all those impacted by cardiovascular diseases.

The challenges of recovering from heart disease and stroke are multifaceted, and strong emotional support is key. If you or a loved one is facing this journey, you don’t have to do it alone. Join the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s support network to connect with others who are sharing similar journeys.

To join the network or find more information, visit www.heart.org/supportnetwork.

Photos courtesy of American Heart Association

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