Back to the beginning
This Cardiff based group started out like many Heart Support Groups do, when a team of cardiac nurses at the local hospital identified a need for on-going cardiac rehab support for heart patients. In 2004 when the group was going strong, the cardiac nurses handed over the reins to Alan Gay, 70, and Colywn Williams, 77, who understand the importance and value of support groups.
“When you’ve had a heart event, your confidence is very low. To come to a group like this, where there are other people who’ve also suffered a heart event, being able to talk to people in a similar position is the important thing.”
Margaret Charles, 65, had a heart transplant in 2002 and found that the Heart Support Group helped her get back on her feet. “Everyone was friendly and when I came to my first exercise class they all made me feel very welcome. It’s the sense of community that I love.”
Not all huff and puff
The group is based in Cardiff at a local leisure centre and from there it runs a weekly phase 4 cardiac rehab class and it also provides gym access to its members, which is monitored closely. Members come on Friday afternoons for an hour of exercise and an hour of a little bit of what they fancy.
Mark Morgan is the group’s phase 4 cardiac rehab instructor. He’s always on hand for expertise, support and a dose of humour. “It’s not about looking like Cheryl Cole! It’s about getting to a point where you feel happy with yourself and you have a lot more stamina.” And as Margaret jokingly points out: “I didn’t go through all that just to sit on my bum! Exercise is the key when you’ve had a heart problem.”
Something for everyone
It’s not all about exercise though: the group organises weekly gatherings where members get to learn about all sorts: healthy eating habits from the local hospital’s dietician, everything they need to know about taking their medicines from a local pharmacist or even the tricks and tips of how to become a successful bee keeper! You name it, it’s on the agenda.
The group also run social events and outings. And in fact it’s the social and supportive side of a Heart Support Group that attracts most heart patients to the group and what keeps them coming back.
It's about support
Llanishen Healthy Hearts might be one of the smaller Heart Support Groups, but like many up and down the country, it provides vital support and reassurance to heart patients and their carers. As Alan adds, that support is the key: “we haven’t had any Llanishen Healthy Hearts group marriages, but we’ve had a lot of friendships and that’s what it’s all about”.