This is just a note to let people know that it may be a while until I am back on the summits. Last Wednesday (5th July) I suffered a heart attack brought on by stress and high blood pressure which narrowed my arteries and caused a blood clot. I was rushed to the excellent Coronary Unit at Kettering General Hospital to undergo an emergency procedure to remove a clot and I had two stents inserted into my right coronary artery. Tests revealed that I will require further work on the left side of my heart following consultation with specialist surgeons.
Thankfully an ecocardiogram has revealed that there has been minimal damage to my heart and following rest and with on-going treatment, both in the short term (various specialist drugs) and for the rest of my life (aspirin), I should be okay once the appropriate surgery has been carried out. I believe that participation in SOTA has kept my heart fit and healthy, allowing it to withstand this trauma.
The moral of this story is that no-one should assume that feeling strong and healthy and having the ability to climb hills and mountains means that you are in full health. This experience has been a shot across my bows and I would urge everyone out on the hills to be conscious of any warning signs, however inconsequential they may appear. Looking back the need to take fairly regular stops on ascents to catch my breath should have prompted me to get myself thoroughly checked out and not just rely upon my GP prescribing treatment for my blood pressure.
For those knockers of the UK National Health Service who may read this notice, I would say this: I received the very best attention that the service can supply. I was alone at the time of my heart attack and therefore called 999 myself. The emergency operator was amazing, talking me through pre-treatment with aspirin. The paramedics and ambulance arrived 12 minutes after I called the emergency service. The team of 4 guys were brilliant, carrying out the initial diagnosis and treatment and arranging the procedure at Kettering. On arrival at the hospital I was taken straight to the "lab" and the procedure carried out. I was awake throughout and a little over an hour later I was in recovery. Once on the Coronary Care Unit, the excellent nursing staff took over and I was transferred to the adjacent Coronary Ward in under 24 hours, being released yesterday. I rate the service received 100 out of 100 - excellence indeed. Obviously I am fortunate to live where I do, so please do not debate the pros and cons of individual NHS centres under this thread. I just want to say how grateful I am that I received such excellent treatment which will hopefully allow me many more years on the summits.
73, Gerald G4OIG / G8CXK