IT could never happen to me – that was the view of a Worthing man who was shocked to find his healthy lifestyle did not prevent him from getting heart disease.
Stephen Peckham needed two operations at Worthing Hospital’s cardiac cath lab to relieve blockages in his heart.
Now, he wants to tell his story to encourage people to support the hospital’s £1million fund-raising appeal for a second cath lab, which will help even more people each year.
Stephen, 69, said: “I assumed by leading what I considered to be a healthy lifestyle I was immune to any severe health conditions.
“Last August, I was playing golf and felt some discomfort in my chest. I thought nothing of it and considered it was a symptom of the ageing process.
“Fortunately, my wife encouraged me to make an appointment with my GP when we returned home and I was diagnosed with angina.”
Angina is caused by lack of blood supply due to a narrowing of the coronary arteries. The diagnosis was the start of a process that lead to surgery and a recovery programme for Stephen.
Stephen, of Rectory Road, then had an angiogram which revealed two blockages, so in December, and again in February, he had coronary angioplasty, a technique to relieve blockages or narrowing of arteries. On both occasions a stent was inserted.
He said: “The angioplasty took place in the cath lab unit and it was a fascinating experience. I was talked through the procedure by members of both the surgery and nursing team and I was able to see what was happening on a television screen.
“The quality of the treatment I received from the clinicians, nursing staff and physiotherapists was superb.
“Fortunately, due to the skill and dedication of the members of the cardiac team and the physiotherapy department, the majority of people who suffer a heart condition thrive and lead a full and active life. However, while there is the capability within Worthing Hospital to deliver a first-class and effective service to the increasing number of patients needing cardiac treatment, there is a desperate need for additional facilities and equipment. A second cath lab is, therefore, urgently required and, therefore, essential for all of the community to support the appeal.”
The original cath lab is capable of treating 4,000 patients each year, with a second one, the cardiac department will be able to treat up to 6,000 patients in its first year alone.
The appeal, which needs to raise another £500,000 by December, will pay for a second control room, a second cath lab, a new recovery ward and an improved coronary care unit.
Dhamrait Sukhbir, cardiac consultant at the hospital, said: “A cardiac cath lab is used to carry out heart investigations, where we use specialist equip-ment to diagnose coronary block-ages and heart failure.
“The lab is also used for the treatment of patients in inserting coronary stents, complex pacemakers and complex defibrillators.
“A second cardiac cath lab will be invaluable because it will mean that in future patients who have critical heart conditions will be able to get the treatments they so desperately need more quickly.”