A message from the heart
Fit and healthy Phil Nash never imagined he’d wind up in hospital needing open heart surgery. Now he’s on a mission to save others.
Phil Nash is an anomaly.
The 54 year-old had a six pack, had always been a keen swimmer and runner, and went to the gym twice a week.
Phil ate well, his cholesterol and blood pressure were normal, and he had no family history of heart disease.
He thought heart disease
was something that happened to other people.
“I thought if you were fit you’d be healthy and it was proven to me that’s not the case.”
It was on one of his fortnightly runs in the mountains that Phil felt a slight twinge in his chest.
“I just had this very slight discomfort in the chest and I thought it was a strain from bench pressing or something like that. It would go away after 10 or 15 minutes and what I didn’t realise it was actually angina,” says Phil.
This minor pain went on for four months, but only when he running, before his daughter urged him to get it checked out.
“I was going out for a run with my daughter and I said can you just hold on sweetie I’ve got to do some stretching, I’ve got this strain here, and she said ‘Dad, you should get that checked out.’”
“I’m glad I listened to my daughter or I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
After a series of tests doctors discovered the left coronary artery was about 70-80 per cent blocked, which was threatening to cut off the blood supply to Phil’s heart.
“He (the cardiologist) said look you’re probably about three months away from going for one of your runs in the mountains and keeling over and just dying before you basically hit the ground.”
As a fit and healthy person Phil was in disbelief, and when doctors told him he needed open heart surgery he fainted.
“I could not believe it, earlier that day I was at work functioning normally, hours later I was being told I had heart disease and unless I did something about it I was in trouble,” says Phil.
“It really reinforced to me that you can have a very healthy lifestyle, but you could have this illness and unless you get yourself checked out you may not have any idea that you could be potentially dying sooner than you’re expecting,” says Phil.
The operation was a complete success and true to form just four months later Phil completed a half marathon.
“That was to prove to myself that things are back together again.”
“I’ve got this piece of metal from one side of my breast bone to the other and I give it a rub every now and then and I think that’s my little lucky charm.”
While the experience hasn’t changed Phil’s commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it has changed his view on heart disease.
“I consider it my mission in life to encourage as many people as possible to have their heart checked.”
“I’d say think of your family and make sure your family has the chance to spend as much time with you as possible by looking after your health.”
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