James Wilson-Miller’s wife Nichola suffered a heart attack on October 26, 2020, and since then the couple have made several changes to their lives, from what they eat to how they exercise.
James, from Dunmanway in West Cork, said he had made changes to his lifestyle to support his wife and for the good of his own health.
Recalling the time that Nichola had her cardiac event James said, “Nichola had some tightness in her chest – she had been cleaning the carpets with a chemical cleaner and she was feeling unwell after that.
“The next day, she was still feeling generally unwell, so we called the out-of-hours doctor because it was a bank holiday weekend. They referred us to Bantry hospital but when we arrived they were outside waiting for her, because they had their suspicions that it could be her heart.”
“They transferred her to Cork University Hospital, and it turned out that she was actually having a heart attack. Nichola had a stent inserted and spent four days there recovering – and since then we have made many changes to our lifestyle,” James added.
" I'll be celebrating October 26, the day of my heart attack, every year now, almost like a second birthday."
Nichola was always into fitness and lifted weights but since the heart attack she is unable to exercise with weights as she once did. Therefore, as part of her cardiac rehabilitation, Nichola, 47, who works as business coach, now walks four and a half kilometres every day. James, 49, who is both a partner in the business and a drawing technician, joins her for the walks, and does a bit extra himself.
James also completed a 5km Love Run on Valentine’s Day in aid of the Irish Heart Foundation, and a half marathon, which aimed to raise awareness of the charity.
“I’ve been out in all weathers, and when it’s pouring with rain, and I want to stay home. I still have to go for my walk. Heart health isn’t fair weather.” Nichola said.
“That is part of the change you need to make after having a heart attack. But it’s not about focusing on the changes that we have to make – it’s about incorporating them into our lives so that they become a habit and are part of our lifestyle. I’ll be celebrating October 26, the day of my heart attack, every year now, almost like a second birthday. That was the day that part two of my life began. I’m turning what would have been a horrendous anniversary into something positive,” Nichola said.
“I’ve made these changes to my life in support of my wife, but I'm also slightly older than her, so it was a wake-up call for myself as well.”
For James, Nichola’s heart attack had a galvanising effect on him.
“I’ve made these changes to my life in support of my wife, but I’m also slightly older than her, so it was a wake-up call for myself as well.”
James signed up to the Irish Heart Foundation’s ‘Reboot Your Life’ campaign last month which encouraged men to review their lifestyles and make vital, sustainable changes to improve their heart health.
An Ipsos MRBI poll, conducted on behalf of the Irish Heart Foundation, revealed that half of adults see themselves as the most influential when it comes to their health and lifestyle followed by a spouse or partner at 35%.
It also revealed that 28% of men do not consider the health of their heart a priority.
Data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that almost 30% of all premature deaths (younger than 65) in 2018 were from cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks and strokes and the vast majority (73%) of those affected were men.
“One in four men in Ireland die from heart disease and stroke and men are nearly three times more likely than women to die young from these issues – but the good news is that 80% of those deaths are preventable through healthy lifestyles,” said Janis Morrissey, the Irish Heart Foundation’s Director of Health Promotion.
“The older you get, the higher your risk – and so we are encouraging men, particularly men in their 40s and 50s, to take stock of and reboot their lifestyles by identifying what simple changes they can make now to benefit their heart health into the future.”
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