Editorials

Going home

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7043.1372 (Published 01 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1372
  1. H J N Bethell
  1. Chairman Advisory Committee on Secondary Prevention and Rehabilitation, Coronary Prevention Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7DB

    The first few weeks after a heart attack

    Early discharge after myocardial infarction avoids the dangers of prolonged immobilisation, but it often leaves the patient bewildered, depressed, and anxious.1 Many survivors and their partners will say that the period immediately after discharge was the most difficult after their heart attack.2 3 Sudden death is a substantial possibility in the first few weeks at home,4 yet commonly this stage in the recovery receives little attention from health professionals. and most patients receive no medical help during their first few weeks at home (unpublished data).

    If general practitioners visit soon after discharge they can do a great deal to help. They can confirm the diagnosis and discuss the nature of the disease. Much of this will have been done in hospital, but the patient may not have understood or remembered all that he or she has been told.5 A booklet in language suitable for the individual patient should help.6 The general practitioner should check that the …

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