What is your story?
4 years ago, on the 13th of June I had a heart attack. I didn’t know I was having a heart attack, but I thought I was. The expression/description often used to describe what having a heat attack is like is as if someone is tightening a band round your chest. Well that turned out in my case to be very accurate. The paramedics were amazing. When they wire you up the readings go by way of a phone sim card to a consultant. In my case the consultant thought I was not having a heart attack but the paramedics, probably thanks to years of experience said I was. I was heading into hospital either was so there was no particular risk in the difference of opinion, but it was interesting to see how the data in itself was not the most accurate way of assessing my situation. Two hours or so after a heart attack, certain enzymes will show up in your body via the blood stream which will confirm if you have or have not had a heart attack. Sure enough two hours after my episode the test confirmed I had had a cardiac problem
A few days later whilst undertaking and angioplasty procedure at Ninewells a brilliant consultant put in a couple of stents which in themselves are a marvellous medical advance. One of my main arteries leading to the heart was it seems practically closed. The body is a clever piece of engineering and in my case other arteries had been covering off the blockage to a degree, but the risk was high and still there. I was and am very lucky. When I got off the table the consultant said I was getting a second chance so try not to “screw it up”. I have tried to follow his recommendation. For one thing I have never smoked another cigarette.
Why BHF and why now?
Raising money for BHF research isn’t just about my story, my dad got many extra years or quality of life thanks to a pacemaker before cancer finally got him and in 2020 a dear colleague died suddenly due to a heart issue. There are so many people touched by heart and vascular problems some survive like me and my father, but some are not so fortunate like my friend and colleague. Anything I can do to help advance the science I am happy to do. As a psychology student I know the value of research and I also know it is often small steps forward that came about rather than big leaps, but I also know every small step leads to more and more success. Every step even the small ones may save another life.
WHY Academy of Sport and Wellbeing
ASW has a couple of straplines one is “Here for everyone” and the other is “More than a Gym”. It would be easy to put these big words in bold writing on the gym wall, but they are pointless unless you follow them up. ASW always follows them up. Gyms are great places, but I do know in some cases they can be a little intimidating. ASW is more like a family. They support you and nurture you. They are inclusive and adaptive. They make me laugh, they encourage me, they have backed my training for 2 different events already including a 5K at the Kelpies to raise money for BHF in 2019. The other customers are students at UHI or staff or just the public, but they too are kind, supportive, welcoming, friendly and completely non-judgemental. I knew once I had finished my cardio rehab under the supervision of the NHS I needed a gym where I could take my time and do my workouts, with their guidance and within the safe zones laid down by the medical experts. Even now my programme (I am on version 10) is very carefully put together to maximise my health but minimise the risk. However, if I had a key message about doing a gym programme after a hart attack it is 50% physical and 50% mental. My exercise regime has done more for my mental health and the traumatic impact of my heart attack than anything else. Whilst of course I am the first to acknowledge the remarkable NHS and also my amazing wife who have both been key in my recovery there is much that I owe to ASW and I am grateful for their continued support both in my exercise regimes but in promoting my fund raising and helping raise the profile
Why My Marathon?
It just seems like such a brilliant challenge. I know I will never run a real marathon and I never would have before my Heart attack, but this is a challenge and a hard one which makes it worthwhile, but it is also one if you break it up can be fun and gives me the chance, with the help of ASW to hopefully turn it into an event. That it turn might increase the amount of money we raise as well as perhaps raise some awareness.
What is your message?
There are too many I am afraid. I suppose the key is if you have suffered a heart episode or have a condition that would benefit from exercise, then the seek expert medical advice from the GP or cardiac nursing teams in the NHS. Undertake the excellent Cardio rehab programme with your local hospital if you are invited because it is so important to get the expert interventions as you start on any journey. Then keep going and get the expert interventions and support to keep that journey going.
If you have any concerns over the potential for heart disease in your own life first and foremost seek expert medical advice but I also say please look at your life choices, calculate your risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, diet and then make some changes. Prevention remains better than sure. Finally please help fund research if you can.