Cardiophobia – the fear of heart attacks. A general fear of heart attacks and cardiac disease is relatively normal. Most of us are aware of the importance of looking after our heart and we’ve all seen the fictional films where the star grabs his or her chest and keels over in agony – dead on the spot and out of the blue!
A general anxiety (to a certain degree) and awareness is actually beneficial. It helps us stay focussed on a relatively healthy lifestyle and aware of the dangers of eating the wrong foods, drinking too much, a lack of exercise, manageable levels of stress and, of course, smoking. This awareness results in an improved lifestyle and, hence, a reduced chance of a heart attack or heart disease.
For some though, this fear of heart attacks can be overwhelming to the point where it affects quality of life. At this stage it becomes the condition of Cardiophobia. Ironically, this can increase stress and actually make it the chances of a heart attack slightly more likely. So, it’s time to beat those Cardiophobia fears.
There’s usually a physical trigger for an irrational fear of heart attacks. This trigger is often quite easy to identify and two fold:
1: It may be a result of witnessing the effect of a heart attack on a third party. This could be a relative, a close friend or even witnessing the effects of a heart attack on a complete stranger. When we say “witnessing” we don’t just mean actually being there when the heart attack strikes. Simply the fact that a person is there one minute, healthy, happy and well and then either dead or lying in a hospital bed attached to wires and drips the next is enough to bring hope the fragility of life and be the catalyst for Cardiophobia.
2: The second trigger may be a result of actually having a heart attack. This leaves a fear of a repeat episode. This one I can actually completely relate to. I had a heart attack, completely unexpectedly, at the age of just 46. I was well one minute and in exteme discomfort the next. It was a wierd feeling – not overly painful, more incredibly uncomfortable. Sit, stand, lie, walk … nothing would alleviate the feeling. It was like nothing I’d ever felt before and I knew something was wrong so I called an ambulance.
Next minute I was in hospital with doctors running around and injecting clot-busting drugs. I was lucky and several days and a couple of strents later I was back at home beginning several minths of recovery.
The psychological effects of this experience was hard to overcome. I was scared to go out, scared to be alone. Every twinge of pain was another heart attack … the fear of another heart attack was potentially life changing.
The fear of heart attacks can be quite severe. Whereas many other specific fears are triggers by an actual circumstance or event this one tends to consume every waking minute of life.
Every slight pain is the start of cardiac arrest. Any slight increase in blood pressure is the onset of heart disease. Any change in heart rate is an impending heart attack. You get the picture – the sufferer is obsessed and has an all-consuming Cardiophobia.
If left unmanaged the results are often life-affecting. Activities which may increase heart rate are avoided, exercise is kept within “safe levels” and the individual feels they cannot push themselves. Pulse rate and blood pressure are taken several times a day with any variation causing concerns. There’s a fear of being alone and even a fear of going out and situations of excitement or stress are avoided.
As mentioned earlier, ironically, these symptoms actually increase the chances of having a heart attack! They are not healthy and need to be addressed. As a knock on effect they also lead to dispair, hopelessness and depression.
You weren’t born with particular fears or anxiety – instead you have developed them along your life journey so far. In very simple terms Hypnotherapy works by re-setting the mind to produce the rational response to a specific situation or environment that you had before the phobia was initially triggered off. Find Out More >
Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP combines neurology and linguistics and creates a sort of programming that helps people change their thinking habits, help them deal with anxiety, stress, depression and overcome particular fears. In short, this means taking a specific fear or phobia and disassociating and reframing the experience to prevent the irrational response. Find Out More >
In simple terms Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT as it’s more commonly referrred to, is a talking therapy which takes your specific issue, fear or specific phobia and focusses on your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and how they affect your behaviour and emotions in respect of this issue. It takes on the notion that your thoughts (cognition) creates emotions which, in turn, controls our reactions (behaviour). Find Out More >
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with listening to the fear and improving your lifestyle. Learn to relax more, increase levels of exercise by walking more, swimming or join a gym. Watch what you eat to lower collesterol, lose a few pounds and drink more water. Reduce alcohol intake but drink the odd glass of red wine (supposed to help … in moderation of course!). Most of all, it goes without saying, quit the smoking!
For a long time there’s been a clinical link between stress and heart attacks. This is why it’s important to relax more too.
Those are physical changes we can all make right now to lower the actual chances of having a heart attack, or another hart attack but, whilst helping, these wont solve the psychological issues and the irrational fear so take a look at one of our recommended, self-help treatment programs that are all guaranteed, proven and effective.