What is the heart health support line?

What is the heart health support line?

We talked to Senior Heart Nurse Beverley to find out.

Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK. There are around 7.6 million people living with heart or circulatory diseases, and a million living with heart failure1. Hearts are huge – and that’s exactly why Equipsme plans come with dedicated support from heart health nurses through the AXA Health Dedicated Heart Nurse helpline. We talked to Senior Heart Nurse Beverley to find out more.

Hi Beverley! What does the AXA Health Dedicated Heart Nurse helpline do?

We talk to people who have heart problems – often before or after major surgery. We also talk to families, and are here to offer dedicated information, advice and support.

Who picks up the phone?

We’re all registered nurses and cardiac specialists with years of hands-on experience before moving to the helpline. You can speak to us 9am-5pm Monday – Friday. Outside these hours our experienced teams of healthcare professionals are on hand to offer more general health support. 

Why do people need the Dedicated Heart Nurse helpline?

When something goes wrong with your heart, it can be extremely frightening. Your doctors and nurses are going to look after you in the moment, but sometimes you’ve got more questions, or just need a bit more support than you can get in your appointment. We’re here to talk to people about their heart disease, and help them understand what’s happening to them throughout their treatment and recovery.

What kind of things do people ask you about?

All sorts of things. The other day I chatted to someone in his 40s who’d just been diagnosed with a rare heart condition. Not only was it a shock, but his treatment plan had changed from surgery to management with medication. He’d been sent away with a raft of drugs and was getting a whole host of side effects - and in hindsight he had all these questions about what he was taking, why, what happened - and why him.

Often what we do is as much about the psychological as the physiological. We get a lot of people calling up after their heart attack or surgery just trying to process this huge life event, sometimes having had a near death experience and all of these major, invasive procedures.

Others are calling for reassurance pre-surgery, and we talk to them about how often it’s done and how safe it is, and walk them through what to expect on the day and afterwards in the ICU, on the recovery ward, and back at home.

How long do calls last?

It totally depends on the person and what they need. Some people just need a quick answer to a practical question – like what an acronym means, or how to change their wound dressing, or how long the battery will last in their pacemaker - or when they’ll be able to fly again or get back to exercise. Others need a bit more time and a bit more advice.

In another recent call I talked to a man whose lifestyle had been a factor in his heart attack, and after a quadruple heart bypass he wanted advice about how to lose weight, and what he should be doing to aid his recovery. We had a lovely chat about food, portion control, exercise, what to do and how much to do. In the end we were on the phone for about half an hour.

Do people call back?

Some do. We keep notes on file so we offer some continuity whoever picks up the phone, but we do try and make sure someone can talk to the same person if they want to, and we can always arrange call-backs.

Do you have to deal with a lot of jargon?

Generally, doctors and nurses are very good at explaining things, but yes, jargon does slip in. And sometimes people are too embarrassed or too overwhelmed in the moment to ask about it. We can help turn it into plain English, unpick it all, and understand what it all means.

Can family members call?

Absolutely. We often get relatives ringing up looking for information to help soothe anxieties about their loved one’s surgery. Sometimes they even want to know if there’s anything for them to worry about – if a condition has a hereditary risk, what to look out for and when to get screened or tested.

What’s a key piece of advice you give heart patients?

Listen to your body. Yes, you need to move around to get your heart working properly, but if you need to rest, rest.

There’s no set timetable for recovery – everyone goes at their own pace. More often than not, you’ll end up feeling better than you did before – because before you got help your heart wasn’t working efficiently. So there’s a whole new lease of life ahead of you.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I wanted to be a nurse since I was 13, mainly because I find people endlessly fascinating. I’ve met some incredible people with some incredible stories over the last 30 years, and I feel very lucky to have been able to help them, reassure them, and make them more comfortable.

I got interested in cardiology after my own husband had a serious heart issue at a very young age. So I understand hearts from both sides. I also love learning. There’s so much to learn about our bodies and minds and how they work - and with advances in surgery and medicine there’s always something new and amazing happening.

How do I call the Dedicated Heart Nurse helpline?

If you are diagnosed with a heart condition (whether the treatment is covered under your plan or not), our dedicated nurses can help you and your family. The dedicated heart nurses are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday by calling 0800 2182 303.



1. March 2024: Facts and figures - Information for journalists - BHF


Created: May 2024