‘The doctor said my heart was like Swiss cheese – it was full of holes’
Ian Butler fell ill on a charity bike ride for Heartbeat and doctors later found 16 holes in his heart.
He talks to Laura Wild as part of the Evening Post campaign to help the charity raise cash to move to its new home.
BATTLING BACK TO HEALTH: Ian Butler at home in Leyland
Ian Butler is now recovering from major heart surgery following an episode which changed his life.
The 43-year-old from Leyland worked as a postman for 13 years and considered himself in good health. Little did he know that his heart was riddled with holes, which had been there since birth.
Ironically, Ian was taking part in an event to help Preston-based charity Heartbeat, which is currently trying to raise £37,000 to kit out new premises at the former National Football Museum.
Ian says: “I am reasonably healthy and I keep myself quite fit, but I started to notice I was getting short of breath and having dizzy spells. But, being a bloke you don’t take much notice, I just ignored it.
“Me and a couple of mates always do a bike ride each year for charity, and we thought we would do it for Heartbeat because my dad had a triple heart bypass three years ago.
“We had been training and I started feeling short of breath and dizzy, but I didn’t really think anything of it.
“I actually did the bike ride, it was Manchester to Blackpool, but I was in so much trouble. I couldn’t carry on. I got 20 miles in and just had to stop.
“I couldn’t get my breath. I had to drop out.
“About a week later I thought I am going to have to go to the doctors.
“I went to the doctors and he gave me a quick once over, he checked my pulse, put the stethoscope on my heart, it was just a routine check-up. He said ‘everything seems fine. I can’t see any problems.’ But because I had been experiencing dizzy spells and shortness of breath they did an ECG.
“They said something wasn’t right, my heart was all out of rhythm. At first they didn’t know if it was the machine, so they did another one and it was the same thing again.
“Within 10 minutes I was in the back of an ambulance on the way to Chorley hospital. They said I had atrial fibrillation, a rhythm problem.
“I was in hospital for about 36 hours. I was put on a drug called warfarin and they said they would shock the heart back into rhythm, but they needed to get my blood to a certain level, which could take eight to 10 weeks.
“In the meantime I had all these other tests, x-rays, scans, when I went back to Chorley to speak to cardiology they showed me the scans.
“They scan showed an enlargement on the right side of my heart which shouldn’t be there. I was referred to Wythenshawe Hospital where I had an MRI which found two large holes in my heart, called atrial septal defect, which were 2cm in diameter.