In the summer of 2018, Tom had just finished his latest windsurfing session when he went into a sudden cardiac arrest.
“I had no warning, there was no chest pain.
“My friends were able to do CPR and use the local defibrillator, and within an hour I was at Papworth Hospital having a stent fitted.”
Tom went on to complete a 12-week Cardiac Rehabilitation Program with Papworth Hospital in order to build both his fitness and his confidence following the incident.
Just one year later, whilst on holiday in Greece, Tom experienced his second heart attack without warning.
With the hospital in Greece unable to fit him with another stent, Tom was sent back home to the UK with heart failure. In January 2020, Tom had three new stents fitted at Papworth Hospital.
“This time, with Covid-19 threatening everybody, I wanted to build my heart strength to the maximum possible.
“I started running for the first time in the local park, combined with home exercises from Papworth Hospital. I did this at the optimum level, 90 minutes per day, 6 days per week within my heart rate limits.”
Tom was offered an Exercise Treadmill Test (ETT) with the aim of increasing his heart rate limit for exercise, however the test was forced to come to an end due to Tom experiencing ectopic heartbeats resulting in his heart rate limit ultimately being decreased.
“It was suggested that I try a Frontier X monitor, which would provide heart rate readings during exercise. My wrist-worn heart rate monitor couldn’t do this, you’ve got to be stationary and calm to take recordings, and when I stop running I don’t get the bad ectopics.
“The Frontier X instead showed my vitals including strain, exertion and heart rate throughout every exercise session.”
Tom’s Frontier X showed that he was most commonly experiencing ectopic heartbeats during the warm-up period of his workouts.
“Normally it was just one, two or three ectopic beats which is safe, but on two occasions I had much longer episodes of up to 22 ectopic heartbeats.
“I couldn’t tell they were happening, I was symptom-free. I couldn’t feel them, but they were happening.”
Tom was fitted with a 24-hour Holter monitor, which unfortunately didn’t provide him with the answers that he was hoping for. The test showed that he was experiencing short bursts of ectopic beats rather than long ones, prompting his healthcare team to inform Tom that no further medical action was required.
“Then I shared my Frontier X results with them. You could see that those short ectopic heartbeats that were visible on the Holter results and the long bursts that had been shown on the Frontier X had the same shape, they came from the same source and they had the same trigger mechanism.
“This completely changed the prognosis.”
Tom attended Papworth Hospital the following week for an ablation procedure.
“Without the Frontier X we might never have known that I had a problem. I probably would have increased my exercise, done more and done it faster for longer – there was a real risk of the ectopics getting out of control.
“I could very easily have become that guy who drops dead when running in the park.
“I have to say, I find that really empowering and reassuring. I’m really grateful for it.”
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