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Case Study – How Atrial Fibrillation Patient’s Changed Life

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I have written this to give to my Cardiologist Dr Boon Lim as a thank you. He didn’t ask me to do this but he has changed my life and not in the way you would necessarily imagine. I suffer from atrial fibrillation. The first time I woke up in the early hours of the morning thinking someone was playing my chest like a drum. I knew what it was as my husband had also had Atrial Fibrillation.

I was referred to Dr Boon Lim and a quick google will soon tell you that this man knows his stuff, but I didn’t necessarily want to listen. I am overweight and have been most of my life. I was told during my initial stay in hospital to lose weight but I had been told that many times and I had tried but seeing a dietitian ended up with me putting weight on. I also have a fertility issue; Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which also affects your weight.

Here is the proof!

I had been to WeightWatchers, and after seeing a consultant at St Mary’s Paddington I was told that where they allocated you points for me to lose weight I would have to have at least 6 points less. But I did it and I lost some weight but it wasn’t something that you could keep going for life and that was what I needed.

Meanwhile, my Atrial fibrillation continued and I was referred for Cardioversion. When it happened it seemed to work for a week I could tell the difference, and it was wonderful. Here I was not having lost weight but my heart was working. Then that changed. A week to the day of

the procedure I literally felt a clunk and knew my heart had gone out again. I was distraught and had to take myself back to A& E and get my medications sorted. I then started to have some problems with some of the medication which restricted what could be done. I was told I could not have Cardiac Ablation because I was too heavy and there were concerns. Dr Boon Lim said to try Cardioversion again something would have to change and he would suggest a drug but unfortunately, it was the one my body didn’t like so the best change was me and my weight. He asked me if I would consider Bariatric surgery and I told him I was not having surgery.

I was not doing that as I didn’t eat that much and I didn’t want to eat less and have to blend food. He asked me to consider seeing the staff at St Mary’s Weight Loss Centre. I told him no surgery. He said just go and see them. So reluctantly I agreed, thinking it would keep him quiet! He then said that he would set 2 goals, one weight would allow me to go for cardioversion again and the second meant I could have cardiac ablation (which had solved my husband’s atrial fibrillation)

So I waited for an appointment and it didn’t arrive so eventually I rang St Mary’s and they didn’t have my referral, after much to-ing and fro-ing I had an appointment for October 2018. I had started cutting out carbohydrates as I knew that PCOS and carbs didn’t mix.

I have to say that the appointment filled me with dread and my husband and I travelled to St Mary’s Paddington. The nerves got to me so much that I was actually sick outside the clinic. This was going to be a disastrous appointment. I knew my blood pressure would be up, my heart would be racing and the way I felt they would be keeping me in hospital.

My husband had had to get me a sick bowl as I sat outside and I eventually entered the unit and washed my face and thought I’m early I can sit down and get myself together. I walked out of the toilet and my name was called!  They weighed me and measured me and then tried getting the heart rate and blood pressure 2 nurses and 8 attempts at blood pressure, and of course, my heart was running fast. The nurse knocked on the consultant’s door and said we can’t get Marcia’s blood Pressure, she looked at me and said “She’s alive, we’ll be ok”.

I was called in to meet Dr Saira Hameed, she looked at me and asked if I was ok. I explained I had vomited outside and she asked why, I told her I wasn’t having Bariatric surgery. She told me she wasn’t a one-trick pony. That is when my life changed. My husband and I spoke to her for nearly an hour, she listened to me asked what I thought was wrong and she told me by cutting carbs I was nearly at the weight for the Cardioversion, I had done that myself. She said she could help me would I like to start a new programme it would be in January 2019.

I needed to go once a fortnight to Hammersmith Hospital that’s all she explained. My husband or my bodyguard as Dr Hameed would later refer to him asked if he could come too. You had to agree to go for 15 sessions. We signed up but didn’t know to what. I walked out of that appointment feeling amazing, but I didn’t know why, I was going to Hammersmith Hospital for 15 weeks and didn’t know what for.

In January 2019, I started the SATPro programme, from the word go Dr Hameed and I had decided we were going for Cardiac ablation or “Going for Gold” as we called it. I have to say that I learnt so much, I have changed the way I eat, I have no sugar or processed food and I fast for 16 hours a day. It may sound extreme but with a few restrictions, I am living the best life. I don’t think about food as I used to and it would really upset me. I don’t count calories. From my highest weight to now I have lost over 65kgs.

I have had to have a completely new wardrobe and Dr Boon Lim at one stage knocked another 5kgs off my target because as he told me he knew I could do it! When I had reached the target and was maintaining it Dr Hameed wrote to Dr Boon Lim and told him. However, being seen in Cardiology Clinic and seeing the look on the doctor’s faces when they saw the change in me was absolutely wonderful, that really made my day, Dr Boon Lim looked at me and I can’t explain how grateful I was to him, how do you tell someone that they changed your life and not how either of us expected.

I was put on the list for Cardioversion. In October 2020, as Covid was easing slightly I was called for my ablation and I had lost some more weight. The staff at Hammersmith are amazing and they knew my story and I cannot explain how much it felt like we were a team sorting out a problem. I have a fantastic memory of coming round after the procedure to see Dr Boon Lim and he held my hand and told me they had got it, I will remember that moment forever his kindness was amazing, if I could have hugged him, I don’t think I would have let him go. He believed in me.

I went home and recovered. I felt amazing. Sadly after a week, my heart went clunk again. Everyone involved was disappointed but, for me, that wasn’t for long.

After reading all this what I want to say to you is this I have options, losing weight and changing my diet has changed my life. Satpura may not be for you, I know people who swear by all different diets, there is one out there for you. After many years I have found mine and I am doing things I hadn’t done in years. I am more active, I still get a rush doing things that I haven’t done, or going down a size in clothes. I have made amazing friends who have supported me whilst doing the programme. What I have is options, I didn’t before. I am still overweight and I will continue to chip away at it. I am a work in progress and I am happy with that.

I will continue on my journey but I know I am not alone I have a team of amazing doctors helping me and you too could do this. Please take the opportunity that is offered to you as it could change your life.

Remember   “It matters that you don’t just give up!”

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