'I felt like I'd been kicked in the chest' 

A quick diagnosis and emergency treatment saved Lynn Connor's life. She shares her story:

"I'd just got back from holiday in Cyprus and was feeling on top of the world. I had given all the grandchildren their presents when I suddenly felt like I was being kicked in the chest by a horse. I knew I had to get to a doctor quickly.

"My GP knew immediately I was having a heart attack and called an ambulance. I was lucky that I was given lifesaving clot-busting drugs by the paramedics on the way to the hospital. That same night I was given an angioplasty, where a sort of balloon is put into your coronary artery to open it up. Five stents [which are like a stainless steel mesh] were then inserted to hold the artery open.

"Nobody knows what caused the attack, but my dad died of one when he was 66. Some people say it was because I smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 40 years. It could have been stress – my granddaughter had been diagnosed with cancer the same year. I believe it was probably a combination of things.

"After the operation, walking just 10 yards would totally wipe me out. Even eating was exhausting. But after a while I went on a cardiac rehabilitation programme. It starts off very gently. First I did warm-up exercises, then I progressed to step-ups and the cycling machine, until finally I could go on the treadmill. I couldn't have done any of this without the help of my cardiac nurse, Lou, who was brilliant and very reassuring.

"I've always eaten a pretty healthy diet, but now I exercise more than I used to. I love swimming and I try to go every day, and I've given up smoking.

"I feel incredibly happy that I'm alive. Everyone else I've known who had a heart attack has died, but now I know that there can be life after a heart attack."

Page last reviewed: 26/09/2014

Next review due: 26/09/2016