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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Living with a heart condition
Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan had his first attack back in 2004
As part of our series into chronic illnesses across Wales, the BBC news website profiles a man living with a heart condition.

Mike Morgan was told he was lucky to survive when he had a cardiac arrest while working in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, in 2004.

Mr Morgan, from Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, woke up in hospital in Bangor after collapsing outside a shop.

The 61-year-old, who had always been healthy and never smoked, said it was his first indication he had any kind of heart problem.

After being released from hospital initially, he returned to south Wales and about a fortnight later visited a cardiologist, who rushed him straight back into hospital.

"He told me you might have another of these and it might be protracted."

"He said I couldn't go home and I went into coronary care and they said they took me to the Heath hospital in Cardiff," said Mr Morgan.

"It was a shock to everybody. It was all so sudden, it was all unreal. They said I had dilated cardiomyopathy - also known as sudden death syndrome."

The condition, called arrhythmia, causes a disturbance in the heart's rhythm.

"It is very serious - on a scale of one to 10, it is a nine," said Mr Morgan.

Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan now helps raise awareness of heart conditions

"Most people don't survive - my heart isn't pumping properly."

Mr Morgan was told he would need an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) to be placed in his chest, which regulates the heart and delivers an electrical shock to reset the heart if an irregular rhythm is detected.

However, due to a slight complication, he had to wait six weeks before he could have it installed.

"They daren't send me home. It was pretty scary," he said.

I was always independent - now I have to be careful about where to go
Mike Morgan

Since the ICD was fitted, it has done its job, including an incident when Mr Morgan had four shocks simultaneously last November while he was leaving church.

"I had a choking sensation. If my heart goes faster than 188, it fires a shock into it," he said.

"That saved my life, by stopping it going any faster. I am safer than most people, I have a cardiac team in my chest. But it is like having a shock from a spark plug - it is very frightening.

"I do get a bit nervous, even now, that it's going to go off - and it can be painful."

"If I turn over in bed, it can be stuck in the muscle and if it's cold in winter, it hurts more."

He said his family had been afraid to leave him on his own and he had found he had to make changes to his life.

"Day to day, things I took for granted, I can't do anymore, like swimming on your own," he said.

"I was always out and about on the road - everywhere in Wales. I was always independent - now I have to be careful about where to go and I don't think I'll ever drive again.

"And I can't go through scanners in airports - [the ICD is] titanium could set scanner off but it could also affect the ICD. They give you a card to hand in at the airport.


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