Cardiac Journeys

Neil
Neil
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I’m Neil and I joined Will’s classes in March 2019 following my initial rehab course at Llandough Hospital.

Without realising it, I suffered a mild heart attack completely unexpectedly while on my way to watch a football match in September 2018. Prior to the attack I had no indication I was suffering from “heart disease”. The following day I was admitted to Hospital and underwent an Angiogram.

From this. I was advised I had 3 blocked arteries. 2 were 75% blocked and the 3rd was 50% blocked and it was too severe for stents and that I needed a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, or Triple Bypass Heart Op. Which took place the following week.

As my mother and a brother had suffered similar problems, I was told my condition was hereditary and there was nothing I could have done about it.

I underwent the surgery, spent 6 weeks at home following the recommended walking regime, then on to the 6 week NHS rehabilitation exercise and education course at Llandough. It covers exercise, relaxation, medication, lifestyle and advice on changing our diets to a more Mediterranean based one. This course was a massive help restoring my confidence as it would have been too easy to simply acknowledge I had been dealt a poor hand with my genes and resign myself to a restricted existence.

I was also made aware of Will’s classes and joined them to continue receiving fully supervised exercise as it was obvious this is very important. These classes have been great fun, helping me improve my overall fitness and meeting others who have experienced the same shock to their lives.  The classes are so friendly and easy going, yet targeted to help everyone. Whether we have a bad back, stiff shoulder or dodgy knees! We are certainly not “Gym Bunnies”! The emphasis is on safe exercising and getting our hearts working a bit each week.

Alongside Will’s classes my natural curiosity led me to learning what else could help my recovery and wellbeing. I found that nutrition has a bigger effect than pointed out in hospital, learning simple things such as dark green cruciferous veg, spinach, broccoli, kale and Rocket leaves each day help our artery walls to soften. Allowing them to expand and contract easier when needed. It also reduces plaque build up in the arteries. That eating fruit after every meal helps reduce the natural sugar spike that follows a meal, this reduces strain on our body. I learnt that animal protein causes inflammation spikes in our blood system for up to 6 hours. This inflammation hardens our arteries.

So, I’ve adopted a Wholefood Plant Based diet. Where the food is unprocessed as much as possible, there is no meat or dairy, low salt and sugar and the other major element is no added, or extracted, oil. Which means I have had to learn to cook without oil. Once I adopted this, I saw my weight drop nearly a stone in 5-6 weeks, my blood pressure drops quite regularly to 112 over 75 and I have felt I have a lot more energy. I was surprised how tasty and varied the food can be and the biggest surprise is you eat until you are full, and calories are not counted. As with any change in lifestyle its not been easy, but I see an instant impact if I lapse into snacks or poor food.

My Statin and Beta Blocker medication has been reduced by my Cardiologist and my aim is to be fully off medication by 2021.

For me. I’ve learnt that exercise, a more natural diet and relaxation are the three main pillars of a healthy life. We say it a lot, but don’t always practice what we say!

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Two years ago I was 50 years old. I was overweight, depressed and tired all the time.  Life didn’t feel very good even though I had a good job and good friends. I was on my way back from the shop and just about to jump into the car to drive to Cardiff when I experienced pain between my shoulder blades which quickly became much much worse.

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