What Happens.

Many people (including medical professionals) describe heart surgery as a "a bit of plumbing", "a bit of electrical work", a "rebore", "implanting a new part”, “unblocking a drain” etc

After a cardiac event many heart patients report that it is not so much the physical outcome that has an impact but the roller coaster of emotions they experience. These experiences are often surprising, worrying and confusing to everyone involved.

In my workshops I ask patients to share words that describe how they feel after discovering they have a heart problem.

Some of the words provided are shown here. It indicates the breadth of emotions felt.

Words used by heart patients in describing their reaction to a heart event.


I have grouped the words used by patients to describe their experiences into six categories:

-  Fear & Uncertainty, 

(Fear of dying, afraid, terrified, scared etc.)

-  Anxiety and Stress,

(Nervous, anxious, worried, edgy, grumpy, etc.)

-  Depression

(Feeling Low, useless, depressed, not coping, pointless, doomed, hopeless, pessimistic etc)

-  Loss of confidence

(Useless, weak, invalid, dependant, shattered, uncertain etc)

-  Positiveness / Wellbeing

(Relieved, happy, optimistic, grateful, lucky etc.)

-  Grief

(Denial, angry, disbelief, unfair, disappointed etc.)

The experiences of patients recovering from a heart event are similar to the Grief Process described by Kübler-Ross

The Grief Process Stages include: 

  • Denial, 
  • Shock, 
  • Anger, 
  • Depression, 
  • Acceptance and 
  • Wellbeing.

© Len Gould 2019 Heartemotions (Version V210118)