Lurgan man Mark Nelson fundraising for charity close to his heart
A Co Armagh man diagnosed with heart failure after suffering a heart attack has taken part in a walking challenge to raise money for British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland’s (BHF NI) 60th birthday.
Mark Nelson from Lurgan has been clocking up the miles and walking as far as he can every day to raise funds for the heart research charity.
The 54-year-old lives with heart failure, an often debilitating condition that means the heart isn’t pumping blood around the body as well as it should.
Mark said he was diagnosed with heart failure after he suffered a heart attack in October, 2018.
“I was travelling to a football match in London the next day so I went upstairs to pack my bag.
“After finishing I went into the kitchen and suddenly felt really sick, I had awful nausea and pain from one shoulder to the other.
“I remember thinking I had indigestion but it just didn’t feel right. My dad drove me to A&E and it was there they told me I was having a heart attack. I remember asking the doctor “is it bad” and he said it would be if they didn’t get me to the Royal Hospital. I just remember being in the back of that ambulance and thinking this is where I’m going to die.”
Doctors in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, told Mark his main artery was 98 per cent blocked and he was fitted with a stent. He returned to Craigavon Hospital to recover, and it was there doctors told him his heart attack had caused long term damage to his heart which led to heart failure.
“It was a shock at the time to be told that. I played five a side football and regularly went out walking with my wife Sharon, I wasn’t super-fit, but we kept active. It was difficult accepting I wouldn’t be able to do now what I did then, I did find it tough
“I took part in cardiac rehab which was brilliant and in February 2020 I had an ICD (Implantable cardioverter defibrillator) fitted which is a small device which can treat abnormal heart rhythms.
Although I get tired quite easily and can only work part time, I do feel good and try to stay as positive as I can
Mark said he chose to fundraise for BHF NI because of the charity’s research into heart disease including heart failure.
“The BHF is a charity that is so close to my heart. There are so many people touched by heart and circulatory problems and I wanted to do something to say thanks.”