Blog: Parkrunner Rob reflects on his heart scare
Athletics / Thu 20th Oct 2022 at 12:26pm
ON Saturday, Harlow resident, Rob Bright ran his 52nd parkrun. Anyone who knows Rob and anyone who runs with Rob knows that he gives it the proverbial 110%.
Last year, Rob had what at the very least could be described as a health scare. At the very worst. Well, Rob has written a blog for us.
LIVING WITH A HEART STENT
My journey living with a stent (also known as coronary angioplasty) unexpectedly began in October 2021.
I’m no stranger to heart related issues. I’d been diagnosed with Hypertension a few years ago and it had been very well controlled. In fact, I completed my first Half Marathon in early 2018 in a respectable time of 2hrs 30 mins and have been a regular participant at my local parkrun events since 2017.
I was aware of the risks of heart disease and took all the steps to try and reduce further complications from it.
However about three weeks before I had the stent I noticed some issues but I put these down to a lack of fitness.
I participated in a local 10K charity race & when I was at the 6k point I started to struggle which I thought was unusual bearing in mind I’m a regular park runner.
I also would regularly sprint up the stairs at work from the basement to the third floor at Bethnal Green on a regular basis and I started to find that once I reached the third floor it felt like someone was wrapping a bungee cord round my chest.
But as this was short lived again I just put this down to me becoming unfit again & didn’t really think that much about it.
Wednesday 13th October 2021 was the day that my life changed (& ultimately for the better!).
I was at home getting ready for work, when I started to feel somewhat unwell. I started to experience heart palpitations which to start with weren’t much of a concern to me & I just ignored them to be honest as they didn’t last very long.
However, as the morning progressed the palpitations continued in their intensity & I thought I’d better do something about this! I was becoming so unwell that I looked at the bath that I had prepared and I didn’t get in it as I wasn’t sure that I’d get out of it again, I had this feeling that something bad was going to happen to me.
I rang 999 and a short time later an ambulance arrived and checked me over. Of course my initial readings weren’t quite right but I didn’t feel as bad as when I first phoned them but I still went to hospital to be on the safe side, I thought that at the end of the day I’d be given some meds & I’d be out the door and home in time for tea and medals as they say.
Everything seemed to be going well not long after I arrived at hospital & I started to feel a little better, although imagine my surprise and concern whilst I was sitting in a cubicle that a trolley was wheeled through & I was told to get on the bed as I was going into resus, the reason being that my potassium was at a dangerous level & that needed to be sorted straight away. Thankfully I wasn’t in resus too long before I was back in a normal cubicle again but the results of the tests indicated that I’d be admitted to the coronary ward for observation.
The next couple of days were uneventful in comparison & everything seemed to be going in the right direction until the Friday morning. I was in the ward completing the usual crosswords/word search that you find yourself doing whilst in hospital when I noticed my pulse start to gradually increase for no reason, starting at 80bpm then peaking at 135bpm. I know this because I had a quick glance round at the monitor before I was injected with beta blockers which immediately lowered my pulse to a more healthy reading. As a result of this it was decided that I would have a CT scan to try & identify what caused this unexpected spike in my pulse.
I’ve since been told what the issue was & it was a bit of a shock & not what I was expecting to hear at all. I had severe proximal LAD disease whereby my LAD artery was 95-99% blocked. Having a blockage in this artery is a serious problem as it is one of the main coronary arteries. When this artery is totally or almost completely blocked it causes a massive heart attack called the “widow maker” and figures show that the survival rate out of hospital is 12% increasing to 25% in hospital. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve survived a heart attack that very nearly finished me off. In fact my cardiologist tells me that I’m very lucky and it was fortunate that I went into hospital when I did.
I remained in hospital during the weekend & early the following week as a result of the CT scan I was taken to the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre in Basildon to have my stent inserted, a procedure during which I was awake throughout with just some sedation or “happy juice”. Within two days I was discharged and back home and completed my first parkrun on 27th November with no complications.
As I write this it’s 12 months since this happened & what a year it’s been. There’s been a few lifestyle changes to start with, for example drastically cutting down on my caffeine intake – I had no idea there were so many herbal teas available!
I’m slowly increasing my exercise programme again and a few weeks ago I reached the first parkrun milestone by completing my 50th parkrun and achieved a post-stent PB over the 5k distance in the process – finishing in 34:59.
Having the stent has made all the difference as one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is my recovery time after jogging in particular is significantly quicker & the photo that accompanies this blog was taken during a recent parkrun.
My next challenge will be to take part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 2nd April to raise £350 for Barts Charity –
When the suggestion about submitting a blog was mentioned I wasn’t sure about it. I didn’t want to be in the spotlight so to speak.
But then I thought about my experience and that I might be the only person that my colleagues come across who has had a stent, so by writing about it I could show that with some minor lifestyle changes and the help of medication you can start to live a normal life again.
Also, if someone else within the organisation reads this who is experiencing similar symptoms decides to seek medical advice then I’ve done my bit in firstly raising awareness of the complications of heart disease and secondly maybe even extended someone’s life in the process.
For further information about what I’ve written about in this blog please visit the British Heart Foundation website – https://www.bhf.org.uk/
Great article, keep well friend
Well done on retaining your fitness regimen especially in view of your health issues. Best of luck👍
Great piece. Very inspirational.