It was such a shock

Duncan, 63, from Yorkshire, had a heart attack in September 2008

‘I’m sure no one ever really expects a heart attack, but it was the very last thing I thought would happen that morning. I’d set off for work early as usual - and dismissed the strange pain in my chest. It gradually got worse and as I walked across the car park to my office, I collapsed.

    ‘The coincidences that happened next certainly saved my life. Someone going to work saw me suddenly collapse and called an ambulance. Their prompt arrival and the fact that a hospital was just four miles away meant that within hours I was having heart surgery to unblock my left coronary artery.

    ‘Although I was conscious at first, there was so much going on, I couldn’t think. The last thing I remember is being taken out of the ambulance. After that, I was out cold for six days.

It was a real shock to be so weak

‘It was a couple of weeks later when the morphine wore off, that I realised the enormity of my condition. As the nurses explained what had happened, it dawned on me I’d almost died. At first I kept wondering, “Why me?” I kept thinking about the coincidences that had saved my life. Then I started to worry about “What next”… It was a real shock to be so poorly, so weak and so dependent on other people.

‘As I lay there, with my inability to do anything preying on my mind, my determination kicked in. My doctor said I needed to prove I could walk before I could leave hospital, so I forced myself to walk up and down the corridors, then the stairs. I wasn’t going to let a heart attack beat me. At the end of that week, I went home.

I went to Cardiac Rehab

‘I left the hospital with a carrier bag full of medicines – I had to take 10 pills a day and still do, but anything that helps prevent another heart attack is fine by me.

    ‘My progress was painfully slow but I went to Cardiac Rehab and found it invaluable – sometimes it was the only thing that got me through. When my rehab finished I joined a local gym, which I still go to regularly, and I tried to make sure I walked every day. At times I found it hard to stick to my new routine, but my wife was always there, reminding me how far I’d already come.

    ‘A heart attack is without doubt, a life changing event. You need infinite patience as you come to terms with your condition. But with a bit of determination, you can make sure those small steps you take are sure steps.’


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