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Simple heart check-up saved man's life

A father of three who had not been for a health check-up for eight years has thanked a hospital that saved his life due to the specialist tests it carries out.

Jim Ramage, 63, from Willingale, Ongar, could have dropped dead at any moment before a life-saving test revealed he had a critical build-up of calcified cholesterol in his main arteries.

Patient Jim RamageSo bad was the blockage that Mr Ramage underwent an emergency heart bypass surgery just five days after being tested by his doctor.

Tests at Holly House, a private hospital in Buckhurst Hill, revealed that Jim had critical levels of cholesterol that had furred up his three main heart arteries.

The semi-retired non-executive director who used to work for Lloyds Insurance, said: "I am really very lucky to be alive, I could have dropped down dead at any time.  There was nothing really very wrong, other than I had wheezing, so I went to the doctor who diagnosed that I had very high levels of cholesterol in my heart arteries."

His oxygen levels were OK as was his blood pressure, but it was only after a calcium scoring test – a simple check for any build-up of calcified deposits and blockages in the coronary arteries – that revealed how close he had come to suffering a heart attack.

"The doctor told me that he had taken the liberty to book me in for an operation straight away.  I think he was only half-joking when he said don't run for the bus.  He saved my life."

Mr Ramage, whose susceptibility to high cholesterol is thought to be largely down to hereditary factors, said it was only his relative high level of fitness and that his heart was strong enough to keep blood pumping, that prevented a fatal heart failure.

Subsequent tests have shown that although two of his sons are showing no signs of cholesterol build-up – his middle son, 30-year-old Andy, who played professional football with Gillingham FC, is displaying the early signs.

Mr Ramage said: "This test that diagnosed me has far reaching effects.  If it is there we can keep an eye on it and get it sorted.  Apart from anything else my wife and family are very thankful that they never had to get the dreaded phone call."

Dr Sandy Gup[ta, Consultant CardiologistHeart specialist, Dr Sandy Gupta, consultant cardiologist at Barts Health NHS Trust and Holly House Hospital, said: "The screening tests carried out on Jim last year were the initial triggers to him having to undergo a heart bypass. Without them the result would have been fatal for Jim."

"In the UK, every hour, about 10 people die from coronary heart disease.  Sadly a fair percentage of patients have no preceding symptoms and their first presentation is a full-blown heart attack or tragically sudden cardiac death.  People like Jim are lucky in that they come with symptoms and one is able to address their risk factors and early tests can be potentially life saving."

Article by Piers Meyler, published in 'The Ongar Gazette'

Date: 13/06/2013
By: Karen
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