Chest pain man who 'didn't want to be a burden' recovers from heart attack

Alan Pepper, of Ely, is warning people to not delay seeking help after chest pain turned out to be a heart attack.

Alan Pepper, of Ely, is warning people to not delay seeking help after chest pain turned out to be a heart attack. - Credit: NHS FOUNDATION TRUST

An Ely man who "didn’t want to be a burden" is warning people to not delay seeking help after chest pain turned out to be a heart attack.

Alan Pepper had a burning sensation in his chest on January 22 but - as someone who usually suffers from heartburn -  thought it was indigestion.

The 66-year-old was restless and in pain throughout the weekend and into the next week.

It wasn’t until four days later, on the Tuesday, that he rang his GP who advised him that he was having a heart attack and needed to immediately go to hospital.

“I do suffer from reflux so initially I thought it was that, plus coronavirus is the big thing at the moment and I didn’t want to be a burden,” Alan said.

"No-one in my family has had heart problems before, so it was definitely that combination of feeling slightly embarrassed about being ill and slightly worried about COVID-19 that prevented me seeking help.

“Looking back I know now that I shouldn’t have hesitated; I should have got in touch straight away.”

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Within 24 hours of arriving at Royal Papworth Hospital, Alan had an angioplasty – a procedure where narrowed arteries are widened.

He also had a stent fitted to improve the blood flow to his heart.

He was discharged back home to Ely the next day.

“It could have been worse later down the line," Alan added. 

"It could have been another heart attack that permanently damaged my heart and that I couldn’t recover from

“I wasn’t necessarily worried about catching coronavirus as I know that hospitals are safe, it was more that I thought hospitals were full."

“I’m very grateful for the treatment that I have received and the fact that I am now able to get back home with a renewed lease of life.”

Dr Patrick Calvert, consultant cardiologist at Royal Papworth Hospital, said: "The timescale for seeking treatment is crucial.

“Once it’s been 12 hours since the onset of symptoms, the damage is largely done and cannot be reversed. Alan is very fortunate.

“Our services for emergency heart surgery and procedures have remained open throughout the pandemic as they have across the NHS; we remain open and ready to safely treat people.

“It is critical that people who experience symptoms of a heart attack ring 999.”