John’s story “I thought a heart attack would feel like a sledgehammer hitting your chest – but it didn’t” It was a whole year after he felt unwell that John, a 62 year old HGV driver, discovered he’d had a heart attack without even realising it. He was put in touch with our Advice Line nurses for support, and John found that Becky’s advice and support helped him come to terms with what had happened. Didn’t realise I’d had a heart attack It all began in January 2019. I was driving up the A9 from England and I suddenly felt all hot and sweaty. It was a feeling I’ve never had before. So I pulled over and took a break at the back of the lorry. And actually within about 20 minutes, I felt completely fine again so I drove back up the road. Not long after that though, I had a health check for work. It’s something they make you do as an HGV driver to make sure you’re fit to drive long distances. I passed the stress test but my GP said there was definitely something wrong with my blood pressure. So I was told I had to get further checks. I got a small camera inserted into my body to check the functions of my heart. They saw that the two arteries going into my heart were blocked. And so a month later, I was back in the hospital. I had three stents fitted into my left artery to widen it, and I was home not too long after that. When I got out of hospital, I felt determined to get healthier. I thought that my heart was defunct and I wanted to do all that I could to make sure I would survive. But actually at that point, I still didn’t know what had fully happened to me. It was only in January 2020 that a doctor told me what had happened. That all those months ago in the lorry, what I thought was just a funny spell was in fact a heart attack. I thought a heart attack would feel like a sledgehammer hitting your chest, like something out of a soap on TV – where the pain is so great that you clutch your chest and hit the ground. But actually, I just felt hot and sweaty for a few minutes and that was it. I felt a bit unusual but a heart attack hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was in complete shock after that. I didn’t realise you could have a heart attack and not even realise it. And that’s one of the reasons why I want to share what happened to me in case it can help other people. Someone looking out for you When I first left hospital, I was feeling overwhelmed. And at first when someone told me about Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, I said I didn’t want to know. My head was somewhere else and I couldn’t think clearly. There was just too much to take in and it was a difficult time. But then a nurse from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland called Becky phoned me and she was just great. It was so nice to think that someone else cares about you and is looking out for your health. Becky helped me with everything really. For example, I told her how I kept getting annoyed with myself because my weight wasn’t coming down like it had before. My weight had plateaued and I didn’t know what else to do. Becky told me to stop being so hard on myself and gave me advice on how I could still eat the foods I liked. Like a healthier version of fish and chips that I’d been craving. She even got hold of a dietician for me and that really put my worries at ease. The dietician just gave me that bit of reassurance I needed and told me to keep going. I think I might’ve got a bit fed up otherwise, so it was good to get that boost I needed to keep on track. I know that I can always call Becky if I have any questions about my health or anything at all for that matter. It means a lot to me to knows she’s there for me no matter what. I know how much that must mean to others just now too. Like me, they might be living alone and so having a person there that they can trust can make all the difference.