Half with heart and circulatory conditions feel depressed or anxious

Many people who reported feelings of depression or anxiety wanted better access to professional help.
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More than half of people with a heart and circulatory condition have felt depressed or anxious as treatment-related worries, perceived financial strain, symptoms and uncertainty about the future take their toll.

Fifty-eight per cent of people who had suffered a heart attack, stroke or heart failure reported feeling sad, down or depressed, while 59% felt anxious or fearful about an uncertain future.

Many of the 5,000 people with heart and circulatory diseases polled by healthcare charity Picker said they needed support. Almost half (45%) of those who had experienced feelings of depression said they had a moderate or high need for help, while the same proportion with feelings of anxiety needed support.

However, 39% of those who felt down or depressed and 37% of those who felt anxious or uncertain about their future had not sought help. Many wanted better access to professional psychological support, either through their GP or as part of their rehabilitation.

According to separate research funded by the British Heart Foundation, 37% of working age adults in the UK with coronary heart disease have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression by their GP, up from 30% a decade ago, and 41% of working age stroke survivors have received a depression or anxiety diagnosis (up from 33%).

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Suffering a heart attack or stroke or receiving a diagnosis of any heart or circulatory disease can be devastating, so it’s unacceptable that so many people affected are not getting the emotional and psychological support they so desperately need.

“Everyone should have access to support and care that addresses their psychological needs alongside treatment of their heart or circulatory disease. And we need to fund more research to better understand the support needs of those who are affected.”

The most commonly reported emotional and psychological wellbeing challenges reported by people with these conditions included: treatment-related worries, perceived financial strain, lack of social support, impaired physical function, perception of feeling different from peers, bodily pain or symptoms, fear of recurrence of cardiac events, uncertainty about the future and quality of life.

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