18th August I went for a walk on Dartmoor, heading for Wild Tor from close to the village of Chagford. All was going well. I found a Bronze Age Stone Circle on Buttern Hill, ate my lunch, then headed further into the moor. And here’s a quick summary of events from there on:
Felt fine and energetic.
Reached a gentle gradient after 1.5 miles.
Ache in chest. Slight breathlessness. Felt weak and bit sick.
Rested for an hour. No improvement.
No phone signal. No other person for probably at least a mile. Rain on the way.
Very slow walk off moor, ache becoming pain each time I walked.Stopped regularly for rests and for pain to subside.
Wife met me at end of remote lane.
Drove 3 miles down very narrow lane to Chagford Health Centre.
Doctor strongly suspected heart attack.
Gave me spray and aspirin. Promptly vomited on surgery floor.
ECG taken as we travelled & sent directly to hospital.Heart attack confirmed.
Ambulance accelerated, overtaking my wife who was driving ahead with blue light flashing. Somewhat worrying for her.
Taken straight to cardiac unit at Exeter hospital.
In Cath Lab within minutes.Artery blocked. Stent fitted.
Another artery 60% blocked – further investigation required.
Stayed in the superb RDE Cardiac Unit.
Feeling of liberation on being disconnected from monitor after 48 hours.
Discharged after 3 days.
On five medications, four for life.
Can’t drive for 4 weeks.
Made good progress during our extended stay in Torquay, walking up to 2 miles a day, slowly and with breaks.
Pain in arm through which stent had been inserted. Advised to go see GP – but was still in Devon.
Went to Newton Abbot Minor Injuries Unit. Infection diagnosed & antibiotics prescribed.
Long, slow drive back to Essex in constant rain.
Chest pains in car which didn’t go on reaching home & using GTS spray.
Ambulance called as we’d been instructed.
ECG and blood not normal.
Night in Queens Hospital Romford.
Excellent care in A&E and Majors. Less impressed with care on ward.
Eventual conclusion not another heart attack and indicators still affected by previous occurrence.
Diagnosis muscular skeletal pain.
Week later. More pains. Rang 111. Ambulance to Queens at 3am.
Diagnosis angina. More tablets.
Saw specialist cardiac consultant privately. He doesn’t think pain is cardiac.
Still getting slight pains with exercise or stress.
Awaiting exercise ECG & stress echo scan.
It will be a while before I can resume previous level of walking.
I’m 59, reasonably fit, don’t smoke, hardly drink, not overweight, not unduly stressed, diet not brilliant but not that bad (cholesterol was 4), so don’t appear to be at high risk of heart attack. Problem is genes. Parents, grandfathers & uncle have all had heart problems. Nothing I can do about that but GP said that had the other factors not been positive I may have had the heart attack ten years earlier and may not have survived it.
Extremely grateful for NHS and that the heart attack didn’t happen further into my walk.