‘Just 30 min­utes af­ter ECG test, hos­pi­tal saved my life’

Pa­tient thanks medics at Hare­field af­ter shock di­ag­no­sis she was hav­ing a heart attack

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A HARE­FIELD woman’s life was saved by hos­pi­tal staff when she suf­fered a heart attack with­out re­al­is­ing – af­ter be­ing in pain for three days.

Claire Tay­lor praised medics at Hare­field Hos­pi­tal for sav­ing her life, when they spot­ted she was hav­ing a heart attack dur­ing a rou­tine test.

The Hare­field res­i­dent was re­ferred to the spe­cial­ist heart and lung hos­pi­tal by her GP af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a ‘burn­ing’ back pain.

The 41-year-old had ini­tially dis­missed the feel­ing as a mus­cu­lar ache, as­sum­ing it was a side-ef­fect of her statin med­i­ca­tion.

But af­ter three days of pain, the feel­ing had spread to Claire’s chest, so she de­cided to see her GP who im­me­di­ately re­ferred her to Hare­field for an elec­tro­car­dio­gram (ECG) as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure.

An ECG mea­sures the elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity of the heart to show whether or not it is work­ing nor­mally. Claire’s blood pres­sure was nor­mal and she was not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any pain in her arm or neck, symp­toms that can in­di­cate the on­set of a heart attack.

Shortly af­ter Claire ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal, car­diac phys­i­ol­o­gist He­len Pat­tin­son car­ried out an ECG and quickly spot­ted some­thing was wrong.

Claire said: “I was told I was hav­ing a heart attack and needed a pro­ce­dure straight away.”

A team, led by con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Rob Smith, car­ried out an emer­gency treat­ment, known as pri­mary an­gio­plasty, in Hare­field’s Heart Attack Cen­tre.

It in­volved feed­ing a thin, hol­low tube, called a catheter, from the arm or leg to the heart then in­sert­ing a tiny metal tube, called a stent, which is loaded onto a bal­loon.

The bal­loon is in­flated at the block­age and the stent then keeps the artery open and stays in place once the bal­loon and catheter are re­moved.

Claire said: “It was such a shock and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it but the team were so nice and talked me through ev­ery­thing that was hap­pen­ing.

“It all felt so sur­real – within 30 min­utes of go­ing in for an ECG I was hav­ing a pro­ce­dure to save my life.

“It was un­be­liev­able how ef­fi­cient it was. I stayed for three nights and the treat­ment was out of this world.

“He­len vis­ited me ev­ery day to check I was okay – she and the nurses on the ward were lovely and couldn’t do enough for me and the other pa­tients there.”

She has re­cently had a scan to check her blood flow to de­ter­mine whether it is nec­es­sary to im­plant stents into more of her ar­ter­ies.

She said: “The doc­tors thought my heart attack was caused by a com­bi­na­tion of di­a­betes and a rare con­di­tion I had 13 years ago which dam­aged my kid­neys.

“They said I could have had a mas­sive car­diac ar­rest if I had waited a day or two later to get med­i­cal help.”

Since Claire’s pro­ce­dure she has felt bet­ter and has been less breath­less than be­fore.

“The doc­tors told me that women of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence a burn­ing back pain as a symp­tom of a heart attack, so I want to en­cour­age oth­ers not to ig­nore it. If I’d gone to an­other hos­pi­tal where staff didn’t re­alise what was hap­pen­ing it could have been an­other story.

“I can’t rec­om­mend Hare­field Hos­pi­tal highly enough and I feel priv­i­leged to live down the road from such an ef­fi­cient hos­pi­tal. The staff there have saved my life and count­less oth­ers.

“I am also very grate­ful to my GP who ad­vised me to go to Hare­field straight away to have my ECG, and to my part­ner An­thony and our 18-yearold son Evan who urged me to see her in the first place.”

Robert Ed­wards, se­nior chief car­diac phys­i­ol­o­gist, added: “Dur­ing Claire’s ECG, the phys­i­ol­o­gist quickly noted that the read­ings were ab­nor­mal and sus­pected she was hav­ing a heart attack.

“She knew that for ev­ery mo­ment wasted, more of Claire’s heart mus­cle might be dam­aged.

“Thanks to the team’s skill and ex­pe­ri­ence, a catheter lab (where pri­mary an­gio­plas­ties are car­ried out) was pre­pared im­me­di­ately and the block­age in Claire’s right coro­nary artery was treated as quickly as pos­si­ble. We are very proud that Hare­field Hos­pi­tal’s pri­mary an­gio­plasty ser­vice de­liv­ers this ex­pert treat­ment in record time.

“While the na­tional av­er­age is 42 min­utes, we have one of the short­est ‘door to bal­loon’ times in the UK at just 27 min­utes.”

n SUR­REAL EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Claire Tay­lor has noth­ing but praise for staff at Hare­field Hos­pi­tal whose quick ac­tions saved her life

n HOS­PI­TAL PRAISE: Claire Tay­lor with son Evan and part­ner An­thony

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