I’m fitter than ever now!

Bob, 58, had a heart attack in 2009. Read his story:

‘I’ll admit I wasn’t the healthiest person in the world, but I had no clue I was at risk of a heart attack. When I started getting severe chest pains, my GP told me I had a problem with my oesophagus (food pipe) and gave me some tablets. I didn’t for one minute think it might be my heart.

‘About a week later, I was shaving one morning when the pain got so bad I couldn’t stand still. I’ve never felt anything like it. I was down on my knees in agony, so my wife called an ambulance. My condition was so serious that by lunchtime I’d had emergency surgery to insert two stents into my heart, right there in the A&E department.

‘When I was sent home four days later I couldn’t believe I’d survived. I was shocked and worried, and felt very low. I found taking so many hard to remember, especially as I felt so poorly. I knew how important they were though; because I weighed almost 20 stones, my doctors had told me that if I wanted any chance of leading a normal life again I needed to take my tablets, go on a diet and get active.

‘I’ve always liked cakes and biscuits and I did very little exercise. My wife helped me to switch to a healthier diet, with plenty of fruit and veg.

‘It was six weeks later, as I started cardiac rehabilitation sessions, that something inside me clicked. I realised that if I didn’t change soon, I wouldn’t survive. At one of my sessions I talked to the personal trainers about swimming and I liked the sound of it, even though I’d never been a swimmer.

At first, I couldn’t swim a stroke

‘I started going to my local pool. At first, I couldn’t swim a stroke, but soon I could swim five lengths with a float, then 10. Within six months I was swimming in the bigger pool and had lost over four stone.

‘Now I swim twice every week and I also go for a walk every day. I still have swimming lessons and I really enjoy them. Swimming has helped me so much; if I hadn’t had a heart attack, I’d never have done this much exercise or felt so fit and healthy. It’s so tempting not to get up off the sofa but I’m so glad I did.

‘I would say to anyone in the same position - don’t give up hope. Pick an exercise you like, set yourself a goal and then find the courage inside to do it. You’ll have times when you feel low, but if you don’t rush it and tackle changes one day at a time with your family’s support, you can do it.’

FIND OUT MORE:

As soon as you’re well enough, it’s important to start making small lifestyle changes to help your recovery. Get some motivational tips here