Brian was diagnosed with low to moderate heart failure following an increased in his breathlessness and a slowdown of his physical activity. His GP is also a heart specialist. After retirement, Brian kept his private medical cover to begin with but he has since cancelled it because he feels he is getting excellent care on the NHS.
Brian was sixty when he first became aware that he had a heart problem. Regular annual check-ups showed that there was a bit of a problem with his heart valves; the aortic and mitral valves. Fortunately, he had no symptoms, and says he was fit and felt fine. But in 2003, he was fitted with a pacemaker to help sort out a heart blockage and within a short period of time he began to experience breathlessness that doctors put down to the deterioration of his heart valves. The possibility of heart surgery was considered but test indicated that his heart was too weak and therefore surgery was not an option. He was started on diuretics. Brian was still playing golf five times a week.
In 2005, his GP, who also is a heart specialist, diagnosed him with mild to moderate heart failure. It has been this GP who supervises his heart condition. Brian has complete trust in his GP cardiac specialist. He sees him every three months and undergoes a series of tests and answer questions regarding his state of health and how he is getting on with his medications. Once a year his GP sends him to have an echo cardiogram. Brian knows that his GP’s care and medications are aimed at slowing down the deterioration of his condition. Brian’s job came with a private health insurance and after retirement he kept the private cover. But, he eventually cancelled it because he feels he is getting excellent care on the NHS.
Brian has had side effects from his medication which in some cases has been relieved by changing the drug. In others side effects have disappeared with time but with some, he has learned to accept the side effects because there is no alternative.
Impotence is one side effect that unfortunately has affected Brian and his marriage. He has tried Viagra and other drugs but to no avail. Brian’s second wife has been extremely supportive and at the time of their marriage, she knew that Brian’s heart condition was deteriorating. They have been married for about six years.
Since diagnosis, Brian’s breathing problem has deteriorated steadily and described himself as being fairly immobile’. He still plays golf but he no longer walks and instead, he uses a buggy. Lack of physical activity has meant that he has put on weight – something he is trying to deal with as he recently started to attend a cardiac rehabilitation programme. Brian pointed out that he has always had a healthy diet, that he has always had low cholesterol, but that his weakness is alcohol. He knows that the amount of alcohol he drinks is well above the recommended limit and that it is one main factor that has contributed to his weight gain.
Brian says that if he were twenty years younger he would have a different outlook on things but that at seventy-six he does not want to be tee total and on a permanent diet. Thus, he is prepared to take a risk and continue doing some of the things that give him pleasure. He has talked with his wife and GP about his attitude to life.