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Caregiving Tips
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Some friends and family members get anxious, upset, and frightened when a woman their own age has a heart attack or major heart surgery. They wonder if they'll be next, and if they might die. If this sounds like you, it is important that you get a handle on your own fears and emotions before you speak with or visit your friend or family member. That way, she will not have to pay attention to your emotional needs when she needs her strength for her own recovery.

Make an effort to call before visiting the woman in the hospital or at home. Visitors from friends and family, while showing your concern and support, can be stressful and exhausting for a new cardiac patient. Send a card or flowers. If you do visit, make an effort to keep it brief and never visit without calling first.

Every woman is unique and heart disease will affect her differently, depending upon how serious it is, her age, overall physical condition, and emotional health. It can also be confusing because she may not be sure what she wants or needs from you. Sometimes she wants you close by her side, other times she wants to be alone. The best advice is to listen and take your cues from her. Mainly, she needs to know that you are there, you care, and that you love her.

If she's has just had a surgical procedure or heart attack, her physical needs will be obvious: adequate rest and time to recuperate. She'll also need someone to go grocery shopping and cook her healthy low-fat meals, wash her clothes and clean house, answer her phone and fend off visitors, take her to her doctor's appointments and/or to cardio rehab, and get her prescription medicines filled. For a woman in the workforce who has suffered a heart attack or major heart surgery, the situation may be more complex because she may not want people to know about her heart disease for fear of job discrimination or problems getting health insurance. And she often does not want people continually asking her how she's doing because it makes her feel old and disabled.  
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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.