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Regaining confidence after a heart attack in hospital

“Being admitted to hospital and having a heart attack – it knocked my confidence very badly. But just having the chance to talk to others and setting myself the goal of doing some exercise virtually every day – it’s worked for me,” says John, a retired personal financial planner.

It was through discussions in the walking group that John discovered that he was on double the dose of beta blockers to everyone else. “Quite often I felt as if I was jetlagged and just assumed this was the new normal…” When he discovered that others were on much lower doses, John went in to see his GP. He referred John to the cardiologist who agreed that the dose should be halved. “After the beta blocker dosage was reduced, I felt much better and my confidence continued to improve.”

Doing more

“I’d always been fairly active but I became quite obsessive about exercising. I decided that I would set myself the goal of doing something every day. I either walk or a swim daily. Sometimes I do both. And living in Wellington it would, of course, be easy to use the weather as an excuse for not walking so I bought myself a good parka, a good pair of gloves and some over-trousers so no matter how terrible the weather is, I still walk around the block.”

A year after his heart attack, John joined an ocean swimming group. “Every Sunday morning we’d go down to Oriental Bay and head off for a swim. I’ve done about eight Ocean Swims now – most of them 3.3 km. My swimming friends gave me lots of tips about sea swimming and being in a group boosted my confidence.”

One set-back in 11 years

“I had a set-back a couple of months ago. I blacked out one night at home while watching television. I was hospitalised for a couple of days and had all sorts of tests, ECGs, blood pressure and so on.

“Because I’m a cardiac patient it was assumed it was a heart problem but, apart from a slightly abnormal heartbeat, nothing showed up in the tests. I’ll be seeing a cardiologist soon.  One of my daughters is a doctor and she’s agreed to come with me so I’m very lucky.

“In the meantime I’m having to take it easy. No driving. No vigorous exercise.  I’m still walking around the block and doing some swimming, but I’ve cut it back.”

John is optimistic about the future, and counts his track record of eleven years without further heart incidents in his favour. “Eleven years have gone by and it’s been so far so good. And I haven’t had that heart bypass yet!”


Shared April 2017

Please note: the views and opinions of the storyteller and related comments may not necessarily reflect those of the Heart Foundation NZ.

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