Harvard Heart Letter

Support groups with heart

You don't have to go it alone — support groups offer information and more.

After his first heart attack and triple bypass surgery, Jack Walsh was exhausted, down in the dumps, and worried about his future. One day he read about a support group called Mended Hearts. Both parts of the group's motto — "It's great to be alive ... and to help others" — struck a chord, and the Scranton, Pa., resident got involved. "That was one of the best things I've ever done for myself," says Walsh, a retired electrician who now directs the organization's Northeast division.

Having a heart attack or stroke, undergoing heart surgery, or even learning that you have a heart rhythm disorder or other cardiovascular problem can shake your foundations as surely as an earthquake. Not only do these events pose problems with everyday life and finances, they can also raise the specter of mortality, generate grief over the loss of health, create problems with relationships, and lead to depression.

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