Stress and anxiety experienced by patients following myocardial infarction are well documented. Moreover, partners feel distress when they realize that they must assume responsibility for day-to-day care once the period of hospitalization is over. However, despite the trend towards early hospital discharge and the role which carers appear to be expected to undertake during the recovery of patients who have had cardiac surgery, few studies have been undertaken with this group outside the United States of America. This omission was filled by a descriptive survey with 60 patients and carers following cardiac surgery. Data were obtained during early recovery (1 week after hospital discharge) and 6 weeks later. The results indicated that carers assumed a heavy burden once the patient had left hospital and were less satisfied with the timing of discharge than the patients. Information provided by nurses was consistently rated more highly than information provided by doctors or physiotherapists but there was scope for increasing input with both groups. High levels of satisfaction with the information provided by health professionals were associated with lower scores on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. More qualitative, in-depth studies to explore the precise needs of patients and their carers are needed to ensure that in future both groups are better prepared.