Mike Higginbottom’s Story
Wednesday 4th February 2015
Mike Higginbottom from Sheffield speaks out about the importance of being aware of the symptoms of heart valve disease.
I’ve never claimed to be a sportsman. However, as I grew older I kept myself fit by running, swimming and working out in the gym. In the early part of 2010, I started to notice differences during and after my workouts – I was breathless, fatigued, and had difficulty in completing my usual routines. I knew this wasn’t right so I went to see my GP about it who prescribed me with antibiotics. I accepted this as medication you never think that a serious health problem will affect you.
On July 21st 2010, I collapsed in the gym whilst on the cross trainer and went into cardiac arrest. Luckily the gym had a defibrillator which brought me back to life and I was immediately rushed to the Northern General Hospital. When I came round I was told that I had aortic stenosis or a ‘sticky valve’ and that the signs had been present for ages. Suddenly my breathlessness and other symptoms made sense; it wasn’t just 'old age'.
I underwent open heart surgery and had my valve replaced and I’ve recovered well. I’m being a bit of a wimp on getting back in the pool but I’ve been back in the gym since September 2011 and I’ve swapped the running for hiking. I feel so much better than I did before and feel that this procedure has extended my life – I cannot thank the resuscitators, the paramedics, the hospital team and the cardiac rehab team enough.
I don’t blame my GP for not recognising the signs, even though he examined me with a stethoscope, but with hindsight, I’m obviously concerned that he didn’t spot the real problem. Heart valve disease is massively under diagnosed in the UK. People will routinely check for the symptoms of breast cancer and testicular cancer and will go to their GP if they find a problem. People don’t seem to have the same awareness of heart valve disease symptoms. The public and medical professionals need to be educated about aortic stenosis and the serious implications that heart valve disease can have, if left untreated. Heart Valve Voice is helping to change attitudes, shift perceptions and most importantly helping to save lives.