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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 01:39 GMT
'Heart disease took me by surprise'
Ray Chad
Ray Chad has been a cabbie for over 30 years
The British Heart Foundation has revealed a record drop in the numbers of people dying from heart attacks.

But the organisation has warned that unless we start to take more exercise, more people will suffer heart problems in the future.

BBC News Online spoke to one heart disease sufferer who was forced to change his unhealthy lifestyle.

East ender Ray Chad thought heart attacks were something other people worried about until he wound up in hospital one afternoon with chest pains.

The 53-year-old had been suffering from what he believed was bad indigestion which had gradually got worse over a period of days.

He said: "Being a bloke I did not want to go and do anything about it, I was just taking indigestion tablets.

"But it just got worse until I started to feel the pains going down my arm."

He eventually took his wife Ann's advice and went to his local hospital where they discovered he had high blood pressure and was at risk of a heart attack.

Walking

Ray, who has been a taxi driver for over 30 years, was told he needed to stay in hospital and underwent an angiogram - an observation operation to determine the state of his heart and arteries.

Surgeons discovered Ray did indeed require surgery and he ended up having five heart bypasses in August last year.


People say they've not got the time for exercise, but it's like everything else you have to make the time

Ray Chad

Ray said: "There is a history of heart disease in our family - my brother died of a sudden blocked artery at the age of 33 - but I never expected anything to happen to me."

He can now lead a normal life, with vastly reduced symptoms of his unstable angina. But his way of life has changed dramatically since the old days.

"I've given up smoking and started walking," he said.

"I walk over a bridge with eight flights of stairs each day - I get puffed out but that's what it's all about.

"People say they've not got the time for exercise, but it's like everything else you have to make the time."

Now he starts work half an hour later than he used to, to fit in time for walking.

The Leyton Orient supporter can now enjoy life, knowing that he is looking after his heart.

He still keeps in touch with his doctors and made friends during the cardiac rehabilitation he had after his surgery.

Ray said: "What happened to me was a huge experience and it has definitely changed me - everyone has bad days but generally I feel glad to be here."

Ray attended a press launch by the British Heart Foundation on Friday to help bring home the message that people should do more exercise.

See also:

01 Feb 02 | Health
Heart disease deaths plummet
28 May 01 | Health
'Revolution' in heart bypass ops
04 Sep 01 | Health
Heart op clot risk warning
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