Associate feature: "My heart attack wasn’t the end but the start of a new me"
Medical science must progress to help people like me and my family, says hotel manager
Image credit: Murray MacLean and fiancee Jill Campbell
Murray MacLean insists that a shock heart attack at the age of just 36 was the sign he needed to change his lifestyle and embrace life.
The Inverness hotel manager says: “That heart attack could have been the end for me. In all honesty it’s the start for me.
“Having a heart attack has given me a much more positive outlook on life. Everything that now happens to me I look at positively.”
Murray became unwell after a gym session. He recalls feeling short of breath.
“I could not get any air in and I had pains radiating down both arms. Maybe this was a bit unwise, but I drove myself to A&E at Raigmore Hospital instead of calling an ambulance. At A&E they took me straight through and next thing I knew I was wired up to an ECG. The cardiologist said they would take me to the catheter lab.
“He said something like ‘not to worry, you’re having a heart attack’. I think he meant that I was in the best place for this and he was trying to put me at ease!”
One of Murray’s coronary arteries was 100% blocked and he was fitted with two stents, which hold the artery open and restore blood supply to the heart muscle.
By coincidence, his fiancée Jill Campbell was on duty as a staff nurse in the trauma ward at the time.
“In the cardiac care unit they told me that I didn’t quite get the gold medal for being the youngest heart attack patient, but that I was certainly in the top five!”
Murray (37) was discharged after two days and returned to his job as deputy manager at Culloden House five weeks later.
He attended cardiac rehabilitation – a 10-week programme of exercise and information to support people who have suffered a heart attack or had surgery – and Murray has been motivated to work hard on his own fitness. He’s also looking forward to his marriage to Jill in Inverness next year.
Murray adds: “I’ve got a personal trainer. I do weight sessions in the gym twice a week and three spin sessions. The BHF website has been really helpful with advice about what kind of exercise I should be doing.
“You’ve got to think positively about these things. You deal with the cards you’re given.
“A couple of weeks after the heart attack I said ‘right, we are going on holiday’ which is something I probably wouldn’t have been so spontaneous about before. But I told Jill we deserved it. She has been an absolute rock for me.”
Asked why he thinks he had a heart attack so young, Murray admits he was a smoker until 10 years ago and he’s now on statins to lower his cholesterol. He also has a family history of heart attack and heart disease.
“I’ve always thought medical research is important and as a family we have too, with my dad having his heart problems and one of my brothers being a pharmacist. Our family has raised funds for BHF Scotland and Jill will raise more by doing a tandem sky dive. It’s good to know this money is helping to progress medical science and could in some way help people like me and my family in the future.”
By Marjory Wood, Communications Manager, BHF Scotland
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