A life-changing medical diagnosis can be frightening. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association now has resources to help in the emotional and physical recovery of heart disease and stroke survivors and those caring for them.
The Support Network offers an online community, as well as materials for starting face-to-face community-based support groups and resources for healthier living. The goal is to connect people living with heart disease and stroke with others who are going through similar journeys.
Research shows the stress of dealing with an illness can impact health. A from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a general lack of social support is associated with poor health and quality of life and depression in young men and women a year after having a heart attack.
The person who’s had a heart attack or stroke isn’t the only one impacted by these life-changing events. The stress of caring for a disabled spouse can significantly raise the caregiver’s risk of future stroke, especially among African-American men, according to a study in the journal, Stroke.
It’s very common for people to feel depressed, isolated and overwhelmed after having a heart attack or stroke. The Support Network is where people can find and share emotional support from others going through similar journeys. Who knows better what you might be feeling than someone who has been there?
The monitored online community offers people a place to ask questions, share concerns or fears, provide helpful tips and find encouragement and inspiration.
Some people may prefer more personal interaction, and that’s where face-to-face community-based support groups can be beneficial. The online Support Network houses all the tools and resources needed to start an in-person support group, including train-the-trainer materials for group leaders, checklists for building groups and even sample agendas for meetings. Support groups can also set up an online meeting space where members can stay in touch between in-person meetings.
Whether online or in-person, sharing stories, experiences and practical advice can make a positive impact in how you face challenges in your heart disease or stroke recovery. We are proud to be able to add this expanding resource that can be so helpful in improving the quality of life for people we serve.
- American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Support Network: www.heart.org/supportnetwork and www.strokeassociation.org/supportnetwork.
- Information for caregivers: www.heart.org/caregivers