Heart Conditions Shouldn’t Stop You Getting back in the Saddle

David Neeson, 67 from Kent doesn’t let his heart condition stop him from cycling and raising money to help others with the condition.

Father and Son Heart Attacks

David’s son Paul suffered a heart attack and had stents fitted in 2013. Being a keen cyclist, David used his passion for a good cause. “I did my first sportive in the New Forrest in 2013 in aid of the BHF after my son had his heart attack. I did this through the just giving site and raised over £800.”

David with his wife Jennifer, son Paul and daughter Andrea

Pictured above: David with his wife Jennifer, son Paul and daughter Andrea

With two more races lined up for 2014, including the famous Pari-Rouix, David unfortunately suffered his own heart attack in March 2014.

“I was totally unaware that I’d had a heart attack, as on the day in question I had ridden to Whitstable and home, a journey of about 70 miles. During the following week I had been doing some work over at the club where I play bowls in the summer and it was not until that Friday whilst out on my bike I got a funny feeling in my elbows.”

“What followed was being taken to the Medway hospital, spending the weekend in there, being taken down to have an angiogram for stents but being told that I could not have them. I was taken by ambulance to St Thomas hospital in London and told by the cardiac surgeon I should not be alive.”

Life after Double Heart Bypass Surgery

David had double heart bypass surgery due to blocked coronary arteries aged 66 years old, but was back on his feet in a matter of weeks. He went to 8 weeks of rehabilitation classes run by the Medway cardiac team which he found so helpful he still attends them now, even after finishing his course.

“Having the heart attack has changed my life in certain ways. I can only thank the staff at the hospitals, my own doctor and the cardiac teams for without them I would not be here.”

“The hardest thing in trying to come to terms with the condition is that nobody could tell me why it happened, but the support I have received from my wife and family has truly been outstanding and I cannot thank them enough.”

Racing Forwards

David still enjoys his cycling and continues to fundraise.

Davis after the New Forest Wiggle sportive

Pictured above: David after the New Forest Wiggle sportive

“This year I am doing the London to Brighton cycle ride in aid of BHF, a sportive in the New Forrest in aid of Multiple Sclerosis as my sister-in-law has it and a ride in aid of Autism as my nephew has it.”

“I do support other charities, mainly Cancer Research because like most families I have lost people very close to me, so any money I can raise to help any good cause I will always give it a try.”

David thinks cycling is a great sport and that more people should get involved with it.

“I love doing the cycle sportive because they are for people of all ages, abilities and they are so friendly.

“Since my heart attack I have cycled a total of 1636 miles and this has taken me a total of 148.6 hours, so as you can see, not only did cycling save my life it’s a great part of my life.”

He’s even attempting to recruit the younger family members.

David's grandchildren “I am trying to encourage my five grandchildren to cycle and I am pleased to say they all enjoy going out with granddad.”

Importance of Medical Identification

After his heart attack, David was searching for some sort of identification for his condition and came across The ID Band Company.

“I found your site via the internet and liked the look of your products. The band gives all my medical history and personal details. I wear the band every time I go out cycling and also if I am out alone for a long time.”

Sports bracelets are a great option if you’re an active person as they are waterproof, tight fitting so won’t catch on anything and display information about your medical condition, so if you have an accident, medical staff can be notified.

Heart Disease the Number 1 Killer

Findings from the British Heart Foundation show that cardiovascular disease alone, a term for all diseases of the heart and circulation, causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK. An estimated 7 million people live with a cardiovascular condition.

A heart condition doesn’t have to rule your life and David has found a way to get him through the difficult times.

“When I get down days I think of what I would be missing if I were not around. I have a wonderful wife, son, daughter and 5 of the most brilliant grandchildren anyone could wish for, Oliver, Amy, Amelie, Samuel and last but by no means least Rosie who calls me Dandi.”

British Heart Foundation

Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. For over 50 years the BHF has pioneered research that’s transformed the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. This work has been central to the discoveries of vital treatments that are changing the fight against heart disease. But so many people still need help. From babies born with life-threatening heart problems to the many Mums, Dads and Grandparents who survive a heart attack and endure the daily battles of heart failure. Join the fight for every heartbeat in the UK. Every pound raised, minute of your time and donation to BHF shops will help make a difference to people’s lives.

Chrish Perera, BHF Head of Community Fundraising for the North of England, said: “We all know that exercise and fresh air makes us feel good. Getting on a bike is the perfect way for people of all ages and abilities to strengthen their hearts and get fitter – it’s also a lot of fun and gentle on the environment. David is a great example of a survivor, having clocked up 1636 miles after his heart attack; he is not only helping to improve his own heart health, but like thousands of other fantastic supporters is helping to ensure that our life-saving work continues. Together we can fight for every heartbeat but we can’t do it without you”.

If you’ve had a heart attack, talk to your doctor or cardiac rehab team about when you can return to cycling and how much you can do.