Mike Tennant found a new lease of life having his aortic valve replaced.
"I was getting increasingly out of breath walking up the steep hill close to my home, so I went to my GP, who checked my blood pressure and cholesterol and sent me up to the hospital for an electrocardiogram (ECG). I was asked to come back in six months for an angiogram. I was lying there watching my heart pumping away and the doctor said, 'We'd better get that seen to.' At that point, I didn't know exactly what was wrong and I didn't ask.
"I was referred to the surgeon, who told me I had an aortic valve problem and that it would need to be replaced. I'd never even heard of my aortic valve. He explained the two different types of replacement: mechanical and biological. At first, I was going to go for the mechanical sort because they last longer, but after he told me that I'd have to be on warfarin for the rest of my life, I decided to go for the other sort. After the operation he said, 'I don’t know how you were getting about. It was one of the worst valves I've ever seen.'
"I was in hospital for four days. The day after the operation, the physiotherapist came and said, 'Come for a walk with me,' and sent me up two flights of stairs. It was fine. After that, I got a bit better every day. I live on my own, so after coming out of hospital I went and stayed with a friend for a couple of days, but within a week I was back home and plodding around all over the place.
"I had the operation just before Christmas and it's given me a new lease of life. I'm into vintage cars and, two days before the operation, I changed a couple of tyres. I was completely breathless. I changed another couple recently and did it without any problems. In February, I went to Paris and I walked everywhere, up and down hills. I wouldn't have been able to do that before.
"I've got a red scar about eight inches long, but it's healing well and some bits have already faded to white. I do find that if I lift anything heavy, such as a bucket of water, it still pulls a bit across my shoulders, but it doesn't hurt. I'm really glad I had it done."