NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG

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A local man praises the support he has received from a range of services since suffering an unexpected heart attack

A local man praises the support he has received from a range of services since suffering an unexpected heart attack

(L — R Mark Campbell and David Wilkinson)

A local man has praised the support he has received from a range of services since he suffered an unexpected heart attack six months ago.

David Wilkinson, 65, from Edgworth, is now semi-retired from his role as one of the founding directors of massive internet success story AO.com. He has a history of being very fit and has been an active middle cross country runner, a player in the Bolton Squash Leagues and also played football in the Lancashire Amateur Leagues.

David was at home using an exercise bike when he first felt unwell and decided to take a break from the exercise. At the time, the rest of his family were away on holiday and the he did not consider there was anything seriously wrong. He described his symptoms as being like mild heartburn and a cold sweat and after some time decided to have a chat with a friend who was also a doctor.

His friend came around to the house and after some initial checks decided to ring for an ambulance. A serious problem was the furthest thing from David’s mind.

David was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital and several tests were taken including an ECG and blood tests. The staff at Blackburn confirmed he had suffered a heart attack and he was rushed to the specialist centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

David describes how the reality of the situation suddenly hit him, “It was only once I was being rushed to Blackpool by ambulance that I realised what a serious position I was in. I had not felt like I had displayed any of the classic symptoms of a heart attack, but here I was being rushed to a specialist hospital.

Within 10 minutes of arriving at Blackpool I was having an angiogram and within 40 minutes I was in surgery having a blood clot removed from my right coronary artery.”

David was discharged by the Wednesday afternoon and, under strict instructions, was well enough to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding in Peterborough the following Saturday.

David was offered a range of support and rehabilitation and received great support from his GP and rehabilitation teams in Blackburn.

After being referred to the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team based at Darwen Leisure Centre, David was offered bespoke support to aid his recovery. The team based at Darwen are funded by the Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group and offer a range of rehabilitation support services which can be tailored to suit an individual’s needs.

David continued, “Mark Campbell and the team at Darwen have been incredible. I was very nervous about getting back into exercise, but with a range of supervised High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and resistance training, I can honestly say that, 6 months down the line from my heart attack, I feel fitter now than I have felt for five years.

Having an unexpected heart attack made me very nervous, but with the help of Mark and his team, it has given me so much confidence and have been absolutely brilliant. I have been coming to Darwen Leisure Centre twice a week and I cannot speak highly enough of the support they provide.”

Asked what advice he would give to other people about his experiences, he added, “I would say that people should never ignore symptoms that are slightly out of the ordinary. I shudder to think what would have happened to me had I not spoken to my friend on the day my heart attack happened.

I have nothing but praise for the support I have received since and would like to thank everyone that has been involved in my care. It has been amazing!”

Dr John Randall, Executive GP and Clinical Lead of the Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group said, “I am delighted that Mr Wilkinson is recovering – this is exactly what this service is designed to do. Helping patients to get back on their feet after such a serious event as a heart attack is really important and it is great that the team of fully trained professional can do this outside of the hospital setting and closer to the patient’s home in Blackburn with Darwen. This case shows how important it is to attend Health Checks when they are offered by your local GP as they will help to identify unknown health problems so they can be treated before they become serious.”

David has been so impressed with the work of the professionals that have helped him and, in particular, the team at Darwen that he has set up a regular monthly donation to the British Heart Foundation to support their vital work into research.