What is Cardiac Blues?

Each year, 55,000 Australians will have a heart attack with more people surviving a heart attack than 20 years ago.

Cardiac Blues 55000

However, while the body can recover physically, healing the mind is more complex! A heart event is an emotional experience, not just a physical one. Having a heart attack or heart surgery can come as a huge shock and distress is common. Once they get home from hospital, people go on an “emotional rollercoaster” of worry, guilt, frustration, anger, fear and sadness.

Almost all people who have a cardiac event experience the cardiac blues! This is very distressing, confusing and challenging for people, especially if the health professionals treating them aren’t aware about this important problem.

While the cardiac blues resolves for most people, one in five people go on to develop major depression. People who are depressed are more likely to have another heart attack and to die prematurely.

“If patients don’t know what to expect emotionally and don’t get reassurance early, they are at risk of developing serious depression. This depression can last for a long time, often well beyond physical recovery. Once patients become depressed, they are more likely to have another heart event and to die early. This is why we have developed the Cardiac Blues resources” – Dr Barbara Murphy, Deputy Director, Heart Research Centre.

If you or someone close to you are experiencing the cardiac blues, rest assured that it is normal and most people go back to normal with time. However, if you think that you or someone close to you is depressed, it is important to speak to your health professional.

Basic facts about depression

  • Depression in the general community affects one in twenty people at any one time.
  • One in five people will experience depression at some point in their lifetime
  • In people who have had a heart attack, one in five will go on to experience depression.

How can I help someone I think might have the cardiac blues?

To learn more about the cardiac blues and depression after a heart event, download our brochure.

Media coverage on cardiac blues

Cardiac blues: the mental strain of heart attacks – Health Report – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Listen here

Aussies suffer from Cardiac Blues post heart attack | Australian Women’s Weekly

Read more


Video Resources

Dr Barbara Murphy pt1

Dr Barbara Murphy pt2

Dr Barbara Murphy discussing the cardiac blues on ABC News 24

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