As a fit and healthy man in his mid-50s, Richard Wright was walking one Saturday morning last December, when he suffered what he thought was just a bout of indigestion.
As the day went on, the pain worsened – but it was not until the evening that it was bad enough to seek medical treatment. He was then told he was having a heart attack.
Not overweight and a relatively healthy eater, although his work driving around the country with irregular hours meant there was no set pattern to his diet or sleep, it was a complete shock to him.
“I had always been very active, but it just shows that it can get you at any time. I just kept thinking that it should not have happened to me,” said 58-year-old Richard.
After five days in Hull Royal Infirmary – ironically a good friend had suffered a similar attack at the same time and taken the last specialist bed in Lincoln – Richard returned to his home in Donnington-on-Bain.
There he set about a drive back to full fitness, which has included being part of Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme. This is an eight-week exercise and education programme to support cardiac rehabilitation based at Louth’s Meridian Leisure Centre every Thursday afternoon. The programme is free to attend, and referrals are accepted from both members of the public and health professionals, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
The participants are supported by a team that includes nurses and exercise specialists and works alongside Magna Vitae, volunteers, pharmacists from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust as well as colleagues from Step2Change and East Lindsey Heart Support Group.
Richard explained how he started with the team after a few weeks’ recuperation – assuring he felt comfortable.
“It’s good to come along and check your progress and keep up to date with your targets and where you are. You also meet people who have been through the same thing and that can be helpful,” he said.
Two members of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team, Jenny Spence and Martine Scott visit Meridian weekly, taking group members through a series of specialist exercises based on individuals’ needs, as well as discussing lifestyle and dietary changes.
“We will support people of all ages and abilities, we want people to get back to living a life, which was hopefully better and healthier than before,” they said.