Alan is living an active life with heart failure

Treating the patient, not the condition

Alan was playing cricket with friends when he fell, landing heavily on his chest.

Just thirty-six years old, a heart attack was the furthest thing from Alan’s mind. So when his chest pain started, he thought he’d broken a rib.

Soon after, Alan’s heart stopped beating.

Unfortunately, Alan’s heart attack was only the beginning of his journey. CPR saved his life when he went into cardiac arrest. Then three years later, Alan suffered another heart attack while riding his bike.

Alan was diagnosed with a build-up of plaque in his arteries, which was blocking blood flow. Alan had a stent inserted to keep his arteries open and reduce his chances of future heart attacks.

But then Alan developed shortness of breath and fatigue—two classic symptoms of heart arrhythmia. Alan was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Doctors also found that his heart attacks had caused the muscle in his heart to weaken.

Ultimately, Alan was diagnosed with heart failure.

Alan’s condition is a serious and complex one, and the information he receives can be confusing. He relies on his medical team to explain in simple terms what to expect and how he can best manage his condition.

Clinic nurses are critical when it comes to translating this information so it’s easy for Alan to understand and apply.

Nurse Joanne McGillion is part of the team that cares for Alan. She works at the GenesisCare Bundoora centre where Alan is a patient. Joanne assesses and speaks with Alan and his wife Penny at each appointment, prior to meeting with the doctor.

“The clinic nurse offers an avenue of communication and support to complement the medical expertise of the cardiologist,” Joanne says. “The nurse can spend more time clarifying the diagnosis in simple terms and educating patients about lifestyle changes necessary, and ensuring patients understand the why. ”

Alan sitting down and smiling

She adds, “The diagnosis of heart failure can be a shock to both the patient and family, so we also spend time just listening—for emotional support.”

The work that GenesisCare nurses do is invaluable for the patient. Not only do they work closely with doctors to ensure the best care for each individual, they’re also the people that patients spend most of their treatment time with.

“One of the earliest pieces of feedback we received was that our patients felt safe,” Joanne says. “They knew they had someone there to contact if they were concerned about their health, and that appropriate action would be taken to care for them.”

Alan feels the experience offered by GenesisCare makes the world of difference when going for his appointments.

“The nurses show a great level of interest and empathy to every patient that walks in the doors,” Alan says. “They spot you coming and check in to see how you are feeling.”

Alan also appreciates his GenesisCare centre for other reasons.

Says Alan, “The Bundoora centre that I was treated at was a really nice place to be. They had big windows that let in a lot of natural light—very different to other health centres where you feel like you are locked away.”

Alan is managing his condition carefully, and attends regular check-ups. He’s been fitted with a pacemaker, which enables medical staff to monitor and analyse his heart rhythm remotely. This means any abnormalities can be quickly identified and managed.

Alan is now an active 55-year-old. He’s retired from public service and is getting back to doing the things he loves. He even managed to walk up a steep hill in Queensland, talking with his son the whole way.

Alan says that was a turning point for him. “From that moment, I felt really positive. I was back to doing normal things.”

Alan sitting on trampoline with son

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