Heart attack victim sheds 10 stone

Sarah BrealeyWe have all heard the messages about keeping your weight down for the sake of your health - but Barry Jeffrey got a loud wake-up call when he suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him.Sarah Brealey

We have all heard the messages about keeping your weight down for the sake of your health - but Barry Jeffrey got a loud wake-up call when he suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him.

A year later, he has lost more than 10 stones and says he is full of gratitude for the team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital that saved his life.

Mr Jeffrey, 57, was in the army's Parachute Regiment and his fitness was second to none. But when he left the army in 1987, he thought: 'I am never going to do another run again.' As he says now: 'That was a big mistake.'

His weight went up from 17st to 28st, and in January last year he suffered a heart attack at home in Tower Hill Park, Costessey. His heart had to be restarted by paramedics after it stopped on the way to hospital, and he had a stent fitted in an angioplasty procedure.

The former plumber, who now works for Norfolk Upholstery, moved to Norfolk from Kent with his wife Marion in 1997. He says: 'If I was still living in Kent I wouldn't be here now. At that time in Kent they didn't do angioplasty, I would have had to be flown to St Thomas's hospital in London, I very much doubt that I would have survived that.

'I can easily say that the treatment I have received has been second to none.'

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He has now nominated the coronary care unit for one of the N&N's Patient Choice awards, which allow patients to nominate a person or team who has given them outstanding treatment. He particularly praised consultant cardiologist Tim Gilbert, who carried out the angioplasty, and Cairistine Grahame-Clarke, who fitted a pacemaker earlier this month when it was found that the heart attack had damaged some heart muscle. He added: 'I am also grateful to the paramedics who saved my life.'

Mr Jeffrey has one son and a stepdaughter and stepson. His stepson Scott is getting married this weekend and he says he is thrilled that he is still here to see him get married.

He had already given up smoking before the heart attack, and since the heart attack has given up alcohol and follows a low fat and low sugar diet. He said: 'A heart attack is the best motivation in the world to lose weight…It is just sheer discipline, I have got to stick to it.'

Dr Gilbert said: 'He clearly took it as a huge wake-up call and really has sorted his life out in a dramatic fashion. I wish all patients did as much as he has done.

'There is very good evidence that changing your lifestyle - losing weight, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, taking regular gentle exercise - will make a big difference to the way you feel after a heart attack and hopefully prevent a further heart attack.'

He added: 'All too often we just hear the not-so-good stories about the NHS and it is really nice for a patient to step forward and express their satisfaction with the team.'

t To nominate someone for the N&N Patient Choice award, visit the website of our sister paper the EDP at www.edp24.co.uk/patientchoice, or call 01603 289821 for a copy of the nomination form.

t Have you had an exceptional experience at the N&N? Contact Evening News reporter Sarah Brealey on 01603 772485 or email sarah.brealey@archant.co.uk.

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