Gurcharan's story

How HEART UK helped me understand cholesterol – the silent killer

Gurcharan, 44, married with a 9-year-old daughter, had a busy job as an assistant store manager of a large supermarket.  He had an active lifestyle - walking to work every day, running once a week, eating a good diet, didn’t smoke and was not overweight. How could someone so young and so healthy have heart disease?

Gurcharan had been experiencing chest pain on and off for a while but it was put it down to stress and anxiety. His doctor organized a routine scan.  Six weeks later and four days before the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, Gurcharan got a call from his cardiologist as his scan results had come through. “I had a blockage in my left artery, and I was asked to make an urgent appointment to see him the next day, I nearly fainted with the shock”, says Gurcharan. He continues, “News of some cases of Covid had just started, and all the hospital staff were all wearing PPE which was frightening and added to my anxiety. I was worried because both my parents had heart bypass operations for blocked arteries in their 50’s, and my uncle was just 49 and had the same operation. I was immediately prescribed statins and another follow up appointment was made.”

Naturally, Gurcharan was worried, confused and had many unanswered questions about his condition and hereditary CVD which he couldn’t find the answers to.  Luckily, doing a Google search, he found HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity’s website which really helped him to understand things.  “I rang the HEART UK Helpline and spoke to their specialist cardiac nurse who was so helpful and kind and gave me lots of valuable information, support and confidence.  Discovering HEART UK was just brilliant and has been a lifeline for me.  It gave me answers to all my questions”, concludes Gurcharan.

In late June, during the lockdown, Gurcharan started to get bad palpitations and his cardiologist brought his review appointment forward. I was so scared - having a heart condition and with Covid ever present - made it ten times worse. “During the angiogram, I was told I had a big blockage in my left artery. 15 minutes later, they had put a stent in via my wrist. Afterwards, in recovery, my cardiologist told me that I was a very lucky guy, that I had a 99% blockage and I had been hanging on like a piece of string. I could not thank him enough. At my last review, I was given all clear for inherited FH and my cholesterol level is now low. I still have no explanation for my premature heart disease but was told that I could still have a heart attack in 10 years’ time.  I’ve now gone back to work on a phased return.  This experience has made me rethink my life and I know that I need to spend quality time with my wife and daughter because who knows what the future will bring''.