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Living with heart failure

Michael Masterson, who is in his early 70s and lives in Galway, has had a tough few years. Here he speaks about coping with his condition.

Three years ago, Michael experienced his first heart attack. Unfortunately he then suffered two more in the space of about a year. He was diagnosed with heart failure; currently his heart is operating at just 29 per cent capacity.

“I was suffering from indigestion and tiredness for about a month before I had my first heart attack,” says Michael.

“Just after having my lunch, I was sitting watching the television. Suddenly I couldn’t see the screen, I was sweating and I had a massive pain in my chest.

When I went to the hospital and was told I’d had a heart attack.

Multiple hospitalisations followed – Michael was diagnosed with a pulmonary oedema (excess fluid in the lungs) and heart failure.

However, he implemented several lifestyle changes, began to monitor his own symptoms – and it is now two years since he was last admitted to hospital.

“I walk nearly three kilometres every day, I take my tablets, I do my blood pressure, I have to control my intake of fluids.” Fluid retention is a major symptom of heart failure.

“I have to watch my diet, I’ve cut out salt completely.”

Michael has also found talking to other patients to be of real benefit. “If someone is three years down the line from where you are, and they are living well, that gives you great hope and encouragement.”

Michael is philosophical about his condition and how his life has changed: “I have to do what I have to do, because if I don’t, I won’t be here! You’ve only got one heart, so you have to look after it.”

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