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Interview HA19

Age at interview: 62
Age at diagnosis: 56
Brief Outline: Heart attack 1996. Heart attack 1999. Angioplasty 2000. Angioplasty 2004. Current medication' clopidogrel, aspirin, isosorbide mononitrate, losartin, doxazosin, simvastatin
Background: Retired Local Government Manager; Married, 2 children

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He would prefer his GP to be more forthcoming with information.

He would prefer his GP to be more forthcoming with information.

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And the other comment I would just wish to make at this point in time, when I talk to my GP and they say, “Have you had a letter from the consultant yet?” “Oh yes, yes, we've had a letter.” “What does it say?” “Oh well, yeah you should take doxisorsan, that's right.” “What else?” “Yeah, he's referred you for an angiogram.” “Yeah, okay.” 

I've almost sort of almost got to tease the information out yet it's about me and it's me that's more concerned than either the consultant or the GP and sort of dragging that information out of the GP is a bit frustrating also. But I don't want this to be interpreted or seen as sort of disappointment with them, because I know, I firmly believe they're doing they're very, very best to keep me you know, as fit and healthy as they possibly can. 

I just think there are some sort of fine tuning that they could do with sort of minor, just minor changes to attitude and be much more open. Now it could well be some patients don't want to hear that, you've got the information, you just give me the treatment, you think what you want. But I'm the opposite. 

I like to know everything that they are saying about me and I like to find and I believe I have a right to hear that if it suits my personality and it does. I would much rather hear the very worst news about myself, than someone try and keep it from me. I would much rather have it, look me straight in the eye and tell us the worst. I cope with it, I'll take it, or I'll deal with as the best I can.

 

He was surprised to find out that he had, had a silent heart attack in the past.

He was surprised to find out that he had, had a silent heart attack in the past.

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At that time I was amazed, staggered to be told, 'yes, you've definitely had a heart attack,' you know when they take tests, come back and said, 'the signs are increasingly confirming that you definitely have had a heart attack,' and then the subsequent x-rays and other tests they said, 'when did you have your first one?' and I responded and said, 'I've never, ever had a heart attack.

I've never had any chest pain.' 'Well you've definitely got scarring of the heart.' prior to the definite heart attack I had in 1996. So when I sort of got over the shock of that, they said, 'well it could have happened in your sleep. You may not have known about it but you definitely have had a heart episode, prior to the onset of the heart attack in 1996.'  

 

He feels lucky to have managed to overcome any depression he felt.

He feels lucky to have managed to overcome any depression he felt.

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I reckon you can have a heart attack and start to recover and be tremendously depressed by it but believe myself that you've got to sort of fight that. Everyone won't overcome it, there will be people that will be depressed by it and it will sort of really have an effect on their lives and I've got an awful lot of sympathy and understanding for that, which perhaps I didn't have as a younger person. But I believe that any depression I suffer from, I can overcome it at present. Hopefully touch wood, I always can. Okay.

What sort of things do you do to overcome it?

I just, well do the things I've always enjoyed doing. I've said, right I'm going to go to the golf club. I'm going to have a cup of tea or coffee, I'm not going to play but I'm still going to do that if I can because sort of talking to friends and acquaintances, other people that maybe have had other disabilities or whatever, it brings you out of yourself sometimes. 

I think the worst you can do is sit meditate and cogitate and think, 'Why has life dealt me this horrible deal of two heart attacks or whatever.' Many people are worse off than me. That's how I get over it, I just do. I might even like last week said, [wife's name], there's an offer in the paper here for a weekend in Dublin.' Booked it on the Wednesday and travelled Friday morning. That sort of thing, that cheered me up. I said, 'Right I can do that and let's go and do it.' That's how I deal with it.

 

His second heart attack was harder to cope with because he had done everything he could to...

His second heart attack was harder to cope with because he had done everything he could to...

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Unfortunately I had a subsequent heart attack in 1999 and that itself was even more debilitating and surprising than the initial heart attack or, or what probably was the second heart attack, not being aware of what, I was told I'd had a first heart attack. So if we call the first one that I say, the second one, the final one, the one I knew about, with you know the classic chest pains again. 

That was even more disappointing and debilitating given that I'd made an absolutely one hundred per cent conscious effort to modify my diet. Certainly limit any alcohol intake, didn't smoke, exercised regularly, watched my weight. Didn't have any sort of inadvisable foods, all the rest of it. 

Given I'd done all that so I quite conscientiously, quite religiously almost, was so disappointed to think, 'Why am I that unlucky that I've had a subsequent heart attack,' and I found that one harder to take than the, the first one. But I've come through it, I mean I've done it. 

 

He went to exercise classes run by the cardiac nurses once or week for three years after his...

He went to exercise classes run by the cardiac nurses once or week for three years after his...

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My participation and involvement was just the attendance twice a week at an hourly sort of exercise class I would call it. Nothing, no pumping iron or sort of building up muscles or anything like that. It was merely sort of stretching and cardiovascular. 

I think principally designed to stimulate the heart to work, make it sort of, make you hot and sweaty and then for your heart, the rhythm of your heart to naturally sort of recede and go as normal as possible. And for over two or three years never sort of flackered from that. 

Flackered's a North East word, I hope you understand that, never had any difficulties with it. Never, never found it too strenuous, never found it too, probably in all honesty on occasions, depending on the mood, I used to coast it. But when I was feeling in the mood I would do the exercises with the sort of enthusiasm and the commitment but other times, we're only human, I'd say I can't be bothered with this so I used to coast it. 

But it was never anything too strenuous, coped with it. Enjoyed the sort of camaraderie and the spirit and you know the fact that other people were there and were in the same sort of boat as me and life does go on, and enjoyed it because of the physical aspect I think more than anything. I did enjoy the social and the sort of spirit between the other participants in the group. It was good.

 

The side effects from his medication are tolerable when weighed against the possibility of having...

The side effects from his medication are tolerable when weighed against the possibility of having...

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Was sort of always conscious that there must be some medication that they could give that wouldn't produce the side-effects that were so, I mean literally having, always having streaming eyes and nose and then like a chesty complaint all the time. With the best will in the world, the GPs and the cardiologists, try this, try that. 

I wouldn't say it was almost shots in the dark, I mean clearly they would have said try this for a particular reason, but I seem to be one of these people that always had negative side effects but physically was, was fairly sound I thought.

I've always had these side-effects which I've never been particularly happy about but I'm reconciled to it and believe that, that's, that's life. You know, there will be side-effects with this medication, which is quite powerful. The side-effects are tolerable when you weigh it against the possibility of a further heart attack or sort of anything like that.

 

He makes the most of each day and doesn't worry too much about the future.

He makes the most of each day and doesn't worry too much about the future.

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Only that it sort of reaffirms the view that live for the day, what's that saying, the old Irish saying, 'yesterday's history, today's today, who knows about tomorrow.' I think that captures a lot for people that's got heart conditions. Do what you want today. If you can do it, do it today. 

That's confirmed that, I mean I probably always had that sort of attitude. Although I was always brought up in the old colliery, a whole history of miners and all the rest of it, you must always have something for a rainy day, that sort of philosophy on life and probably pursued that for the first fifty odd years of my life. 

Not so sure of the value of it now. Live for the day, who know what's going to happen tomorrow so I'm a lot more, I hope relaxed about things like that. I ain't bothered about what might happen, what might not happen tomorrow. I want the best for what can happen for me and mine now. 

So that's how I see things at present. It's an attitude of mind I think, isn't it? If you can be positive and demonstrate that being positive, you've got a chance. You've certainly got a chance.

 

You can recover and you can have a good life after a heart attack.

You can recover and you can have a good life after a heart attack.

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You can recover, you can get better and it isn't the sort of death sentence it once was maybe years ago when perhaps, with the onset of medical science and development and all the rest of it, if people had heart attacks twenty, thirty, forty years ago they were advised to go to bed and they basically died through inactivity in bed. 

Now you know exercise, monitored exercise, diet and things like that gives you a real chance and I would just say for what it's worth to anyone, don't be too negative and don't be too despondent, you can get over it and with the right will, you will get over it. 

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