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How Keeping Fit Alerted Ray To An Underlying Health Problem

How Keeping Fit Alerted Ray To An Underlying Health Problem

Ray Meerabeau has been a member at Fitness4Less New Malden for many years and credits his regular gym attendance with alerting him to an unexpected and serious health condition.

As he explains, “My friends tease me about my three-times-a-week gym habit, but at the age of 68 and despite being a sufferer of the autoimmune disease lupus, I ascribe my general fitness and mental alertness to my dedication to regular exercise. I can still run, skip and jump, my weight is only 61kg, my posture is good, I don’t leave my keys in the fridge or forget why I’ve gone upstairs, and I think I present myself very well".

One of Ray's passions is dinghy sailing and he has always kept in good shape in order to pursue his favourite sport.

Ray goes on, "Despite feeling generally well, over the past year I noticed that I was becoming increasingly breathless after vigorous exercise and that I was slowing down. I started to experience discomfort in the upper left hand side of my chest after a workout with very light weights, which I foolishly dismissed as a muscle injury. Checks at Kingston Hospital and Guy’s showed reasonable lung function for my age and follow-ups with an echocardiogram were entirely normal.

As my dedication to keeping fit had never resulted in negative symptoms or discomfort before, my increasing breathlessness was worrying. Had I been a couch potato, I might have put these symptoms down to getting older, but because I was a gym member and took care of my fitness, I knew things had changed and that something was seriously wrong with me.

A CT coronary angiogram was carried out in November 2018, which showed a blockage in the left anterior artery; a further test in December showed a 90% constriction. This was obviously not good news but at least the problem was identified in time to arrange for a stent to be fitted at St Thomas’s Hospital.

The important point for me is that no adverse symptoms were showing when carrying out my normal day-to-day activities. It was only working out at the gym that highlighted an underlying problem with my heart, leading to the discovery of a blocked artery just in time to avoid really serious consequences. An inactive lifestyle might have lulled me into a false sense of wellbeing and would have inevitably eventually resulted in a serious heart paralysis, irreversible physical decline or worse.

So, I put my good fortune at finding out that I had a deep-rooted heart defect, in time for this to be rectified, to my regular visits to Fitness4Less New Malden. I have also benefitted from making a bunch of good, supportive friends at the club, including helpful trainers and staff. I’m thankful that my dedication to fitness uncovered my problem and I look forward to returning to glorious fitness once again after my operation.”

All members and staff at Fitness4Less New Malden wish Ray all the best for a rapid recovery and return to good health and look forward to welcoming him back to the gym very soon.

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