I knew I had to change!

Mark1, 68, says being diagnosed with unstable angina was the wake-up call he needed…

‘I’d had angina for a while when, two years ago, an angiogram showed my three main arteries were 90 per cent blocked and I could have a fatal heart attack at any time. I had six stents inserted and I remember thinking, “Well, there’s no point having surgery if I don’t make an effort, too.” It was a major turning point.

‘I’d got into a pattern of living a certain lifestyle and it took the fear of a heart attack to make me change. Two years ago, I would never have set foot in a gym. Now I go to cardiac rehabilitation exercise classes twice a week. I find repetitive exercise tedious but being part of a group of people I like keeps me going back – I even look forward to it, as it has improved my social life!

It was hard – but worth it

‘I was worried my angina would prematurely turn me into an “old man,” but making the effort to exercise means I still enjoy my work as a lecturer, I can go for walks with my wife, and potter in the garden without worrying. My new active lifestyle is more enjoyable than before.

‘As for my diet, it couldn’t be more different. I cut out virtually all biscuits and cakes, and I stopped eating cheese and pies. I was very fond of both, so it took a real effort, but I’ve lost over a stone. There’s no denying it’s hard at the start, when all you want is your “usual” food, but after a couple of months, I honestly began to forget my old habit of having cheese and biscuits before bed. Now I don’t miss it.

‘I do enjoy a treat on special days – I haven’t lost my love of cake! But I relish those odd days off – and the fact that I’m slimmer, fitter and healthier than I’ve ever been before helps me stick at it long term.’

My advice…

‘There’s no point in moping around. If you’ve been through surgery, cutting out foods that are bad for you is a small price to pay to be healthy. And the longer you stick with it, the less you’ll miss the things you once felt you could never give up.’ 


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1Name has been changed