Be aware of heart attack signs

Geoff Vogan and his wife Colette
Geoff Vogan and his wife Colette

Despite signs of having a heart attack, a local businessman has revealed how he is lucky to be alive after ignoring them.

Geoff Vogan had always been fit, had a healthy diet, wasn’t overweight and had taken up cycling.

However the owner of Portadown Fireplaces had a heart attack on May 19, 2012, aged just 52.

Geoff says that morning he thought he had trapped wind but by midday was feeling better so set off on a 44 mile cycle. But as he was cycling the “trapped wind” became worse. “My left arm felt really uncomfortable and so I was cycling along holding it in different positions to try to get some relief. Eventually though I stopped and tried to buy some indigestion tablets. The shop didn’t have any so I settled on half a pint of milk instead.”

He said the milk didn’t help and his friend decided they were going home. Though trying to get home more quickly meant taking a short cut up a three mile hill and the doctors told him that if he had tried to cycle further he would never have made it home.

Geoff still didn’t realise he was having a heart attack. It was his sister, Janice, who persuaded him to go to the Craigavon Area Hospital. She remembered that their Dad had suffered angina which had often seemed like indigestion. Geoff said: “The doctors told me to thank my sister for making me go to hospital before it became any worse. I received two stents, the first one two days after the heart attack, the second 10 weeks later.”

With the help of the cardiologists and Cardiac Rehab team, Geoff has made an excellent recovery and cycles 150-170 miles per week with the Portadown Cycling Club plus raises money for the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke.

According to a snap poll by a leading health charity, six out of 10 people wouldn’t drive to hospital or call an ambulance if they had chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack.

Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is warning that fast action is crucial and has launched its STOP campaign in an effort to save lives.

STOP is an acronym for: S - Something’s not right – symptoms can start slowly; T - Tightness or pain in the chest, pain in the arm, neck or jaw; O - Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or sweating; P - Phone 999 immediately – the ambulance crew will do an ECG.