Hospital group puts heart patients on the road to fitness
PEOPLE who have suffered serious heart problems are being encouraged to join a support group in a programme of recovery that initially starts at the William Harvey Hospital.
One man who knows the benefits is retired teacher Tom Williams, whose wife Liz is secretary of the Ashford and District Heart Support Group.
Mr Williams, 68, of Ruckinge, south Ashford, experienced a heart attack three years ago after returning home from a round the world holiday.
“I had a really bad cold at that time and after a lot of coughing I felt a slight pain in the chest and down my left arm,” said Mr Williams, who taught at the Towers School in Kennington.
“My doctor gave me an ECG heart test but nothing showed up. But he was convinced it should be investigated more and sent to me to the William Harvey Hospital where they put me on a treadmill connected to an ECG.
“This time it did show something was seriously wrong and I ended up at St Thomas’s Hospital in London having three heart bypasses.”
The Ashford support group has 40 members made up of former heart patients, their relatives and friends who meet in the River Room at Ashford’s Stour Centre for talks, and to offer support and encouragement. They also go on organised walks and hold quizzes.
“I would encourage people with heart problems to join us in the recovery programme which initially starts at the William Harvey Hospital,” said Mr Williams who now feels fully fit.
“I now go to the gym three times a week, something I never did before.”
Another group member, David Cowley, said: “I would particularly emphasise the mutual support that comes from sharing what one of us has experienced in person, whether as a patient or relative or friend - we all suffer and therefore are able to empathise with each other.
“As we get on the road to recovery we realise that the diagnosis is not the end of normal life, and most of us cope and get on with things, actually able to count our blessings and even try to do things we didn’t do before!”
The group is also interested in reaching people who may have received a diagnosis but may be waiting for their surgery or having new drugs and wondering about their reactions.
Contact Mrs Liz Williams 01233 732560.
David Cowley and Tom Williams