Michael Delapp is 69 years old. He lives in Clifden with his wife, Jane. He has two adult sons.
He is also living with heart failure.
Michael suffered a heart attack in 2005, causing permanent damage to the heart muscle. As a result, Michael had a stent fitted to help blood to flow freely, and subsequently was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is small electrical device that monitors the rhythm of your heartbeat. When it detects an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia) it works to restore the normal heartbeat.
Michael was diagnosed with heart failure very soon after the heart attack because of the damage this caused to his heart. He experienced the common symptoms of heart failure, including fatigue, shortness of breath when at rest and fluid retention.
He said his heart failure had a significant psychological impact on him. “I had been a powerful guy…after the heart attack, it was like I’d aged 50 years…It also had a huge impact on my family. I was no longer the invincible Dad. I really hit rock-bottom. Unfortunately when I left hospital I felt quite alone, I didn’t know where to turn.
I feel it’s very important for people to get as much information as possible on the condition, and on the support that’s available. Once I was put in touch with a heart failure Nurse Specialist, Mary O’Sullivan, I felt much better. She told me to forget the life I had, and to focus on the one I have now. That had a major impact on me – I realised I wouldn’t be able to recover if I didn’t accept where I was at.”
Michael went on to be referred by his doctor to Croí’s CLANN Programme, a specialised 10-week, healthy lifestyle initiative which aims to help individuals achieve a healthy weight and shape through physical activity and healthy eating.
Michael said the programme had a huge impact on his life. He was able to cut down his weight and he says it helped him build his confidence back up, as he had been afraid to exercise after his heart attack. He went on to say “I didn’t realise I could do as much as I could. Everyone was closely monitored, and your programme was individually tailored to you. Partaking in the programme helped me with my confidence, and with managing my diet and lifestyle. It also gave me much more independence.
In addition, it had a profound impact on my outlook. I now have a very positive mindset, and I’m much happier in myself. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t gotten some support.”
When asked if he had any advice for those experiencing symptoms, or those who have been recently diagnosed with heart failure, Michael said “Get as much information as you can… find out what’s available to you when you get diagnosed, it can make all the difference to how you feel going forward.”
Michael was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”
Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.