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Support Groups

When you have heart disease or have experienced a heart attack, you might feel as if you are alone--that you are the only one dealing with these issues. Sometimes having someone else to talk to, someone who has experienced what you have or is going through the same process that you are, may help you get on the track to recovery or make the lifestyle changes necessary to become a healthier you. Being around people who share the same experiences is an important part of your healing process--physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Support groups are also important for your family members to attend so they can learn how to cope with heart disease as well.

What is a Support Group?

A support group brings together people with similar health concerns. If you have survived a heart attack or stroke or you are trying to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, an appropriate support group can match you with people who are dealing with the same issues. Because of their shared experiences, people in support groups are able to understand the challenges and support each other as they cope with their condition or learn to improve their lifestyle habits. Support groups can provide you with encouragement on your path to good health as well as help you better understand what you are going through.

A support group is a non-judgmental environment where you process change, loss, or painful events. In a support group, you can share feelings, frustrations, and resources. A support group can also be a place where you learn tricks and tips on how to cope with or overcome challenges that you might face on your path to recovery. A good support group offers emotional support as well as education.

What Kind of Group is Right for Me?

There are different types of groups that you may join. It is important to determine the type of group that best meets your individual needs and to know which type of support group you are joining before you begin to participate. Some groups meet regularly, while some groups meet sporadically. There are groups that are led by professionals, such as social workers, and other groups are community peer groups led by volunteers. The primary types of support groups include:

  • Self-help groups: These support groups are run strictly by volunteers. Often someone who has experienced the same life issue leads this type of group.
  • Professionally operated support groups: These are support groups that are led by professionals, usually affiliated with or conducted within professional organizations.
  • Online support groups: A more recent development is the creation of online support groups. You can conduct a search by entering your issue and the term "support group." It is important to research the integrity and confidentiality of a site before you disclose personal information.

Education and Support

At Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, we offer classes and support groups with volunteers who have experienced the same thing that you are going through. We also offer educational programs, which are led by clinicians or other team members, that may help you to understand heart disease and to make healthy lifestyle changes.

  • Caring Hearts®: In the Caring Hearts® program, people who are one year past their own cardiac event volunteer to visit a patient before and after a procedure, offering empathy and support. Caring Hearts® volunteers also support the cardiac intensive care waiting room staff. A telephone hotline matches a volunteer to a patient with a similar heart procedure.
  • Wired for Life® Volunteers: Baylor has teamed up with past implantable cardio defibrillator (ICD) recipients to provide future ICD recipients with support, comfort, and answers to their questions. Volunteers meet with the future recipients and their families before and after the ICD procedure.
  • New Hearts and Lungs Supports: New Hearts and Lungs volunteers are transplant recipients who have received or are awaiting a new heart or lung. Volunteers visit patients before and after their transplantation.
  • Leap For Life®: A secondary prevention education program developed for persons identified with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The program provides education for cardiovascular patients on nutrition, exercise, cardiovascular procedures and medications, and stress management. Workshops are open to the public.

Click here for schedules and sign up.

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