"Life became such a struggle"
As the British Heart Foundation launches a campaign to make people aware of the consequences of living with heart disease, one woman speaks about how hard her late husband found life following a heart attack.
Den Proffitt spent more than a third of his life living with the consequences of heart disease.
At times it became so hard that he would just sit down and cry.
"He used to be such a strong and active man," his wife June said.
"But life had become such a struggle for him that it didn't seem worth it."
Mr. Proffitt first suffered a heart attack aged 48 in the mid 1970s.
Within a few years he had a stroke, followed by another heart attack in 1982.
For the next 19 years he lived with heart failure, which is the inability of the heart to pump blood around the body efficiently.
Mrs. Proffitt said daily routines such as washing, shaving and getting dressed left him "out of puff".
In the end he became totally dependent on her as he was unable to get around their home in Swindon on his own.
In 2001 he had another heart attack and died a few days later in hospital.
Four years on one of the things that most upsets Mrs. Proffitt is the lack of support her husband received.
"To watch somebody that you love go through so much is terrible, especially when you don't get any support.
"Den and I both felt abandoned by the system."
Unfortunately, such cases are becoming increasingly common.
While the number of people dying from heart disease has been falling for the last 30 years, more and more people are living with the consequences of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.
About 2.7m people are living with heart disease in the UK - a 5% increase in the last decade
And the British Heart Foundation also warned there could be a surge in heart disease in 30 years when the current obese generation of children reach middle age.
One of the major problems, according to doctors, is that the public remains unaware of the impact of living with heart disease.
A BHF poll of more than 1,000 people indicated the public vastly underestimate how difficult heart disease can be to live with in comparison to Alzheimer's disease and developing cancer.
BHF medical director Professor Peter Weissberg said: "The perception is often that those who do live on after a heart attack have had a close call, but can carry on with only a few minor changes to their lives.
"This may be true for some, but not the majority.
"Who can blame the British public for this misunderstanding?
"They rarely here about the millions who, after a heart attack, live on with a damaged heart that gradually weakens over time, or the patients who suffer heart attack after heart attack, enduring one surgical procedure after another, continually revisiting hospital over many years."
"While the ordeals of those suffering other long-term conditions such as cancer are well understood, and their needs well met, heart patients do not receive the compassion and help they need."
Now the BHF is launching a campaign to try to change the discrepancy.
Since 1995, the charity has been pioneering a new team of nurses to care for heart patients in the same way Macmillan Cancer nurses offer support to people with cancer.
"Register with GPs"
There are 180 nurses, helping 50,000 patients, but the BHF is looking to raise £1m for 30 new nurses over the next three years.
The charity has also produced a report detailing the problems heart patients face.
Dr. Roger Boyle, the government's national director for heart disease, agreed more nurses were desperately needed but also warned people living with heart disease they had to make sure they were registered with their GPs.
"About one third of people who should be on these registers aren't known to their GP and aren't receiving the care they need.
"We need more of everything if we are to keep people with heart disease at home with a reasonable quality of life."
Source: BBC News