A Shipley patient who recovered from a potentially life-threatening heart condition tells his story.
Eighty-year-old Bernard Crowther was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF) in 1998; his condition was treated by cardioversion – a procedure to bring the heart rate back to normal – and he kept going as normal for the next two years.
Then in 2000, a heart rate monitor he wore while running showed his heart rate was very low at 29 beats a minute, so he returned to the doctors. He was fitted with a pace maker and had a further operation to replace it in 2010. Bernard takes various drugs, including warfarin and beta blockers, to help manage his condition.
“If my condition had not been discovered – by going to the doctor’s for the pain in my back – I would be dead by now,” he said. “The treatment helps me to manage things and keep going, although I can’t lift things as I used to and I’m not as fast as I used to be.
Bernard was allocated a heart nurse which he has found to be a great help. “On one occasion he was suffering from palpitations which he did not often get,” said his wife Denise. “We were able to ring the heart nurse and ask her any questions we had, which was a great support.
“Another thing that has really helped has been having the warfarin clinics at our local clinic. Before we had to go to St Luke’s Hospital so it was a half day out.”
Bernard has always been fit and healthy and believes this has helped him manage his condition. He has never smoked, hardly drinks alcohol at all and has completed around 30 full marathons since taking up running when he was 47.
He has also taken advantage of the Healthy Hearts campaign by having a medicines review at his local GP practice.
Dr Chris Harris, Bradford Districts CCG’s lead for long-term conditions, said: “Hearing Bernard’s story has really helped us know what kind of support works for people who are managing a heart condition. The presence of a heart nurse in the background has been reassuring for him and his wife, as they can call her for advice if they’re worried about anything.
“Because heart disease is the major cause of death in Bradford, we are dedicated to improving the care of patients with heart disease in our area and our aim is to raise awareness of heart health. As a result, patients can expect a more detailed assessment by their GPs and their treatment could well be adjusted.
“Our key messages are aimed at helping people to live healthier and longer lives, and this can be achieved through knowing your blood pressure, knowing your blood sugar and lowering your cholesterol, as well understanding the powerful benefits of stopping smoking, healthy diets and physical exercise.”