“I felt that I was invincible: I have good genes, it’ll never happen to me”
Jerome Carson, 57, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Bolton. He used his ‘good genes’ as an excuse to live the life he wanted, avoiding exercise and often indulging in fine wines and rich foods.
But on a business trip to Athens in 2013, he was taking a walk when his chest began to hurt.
“I tried to control my breathing, but the only thing that stopped the pain was sitting down,” says Jerome. “The pains came on intermittently after this, generally when I was exerting myself – carrying Christmas shopping or carrying heavy briefcases.”
Yet Jerome put off seeing a doctor until a night of particularly bad pain ended in A&E. He had an exercise ECG test and then an angiogram. This revealed a blockage in one of his coronary arteries, and in March 2014, Jerome had three stents inserted.
Genes are important, but they’re only part of the story
“I had the procedure in the morning and in the evening I felt perfectly fit,” says Jerome. “It was absolutely unbelievable that there was such a difference so quickly.”
Jerome’s procedure was a success, but he now takes a number of medications, including a beta-blocker and statins.
Jerome now realises that, despite being a professor of psychology, he was making excuses to himself. Since the operation, he has made some lifestyle changes, losing 5kg (11lb) and transforming his diet. He says occupational stress is a factor people should also be aware of.
“Genes are important, but they’re only part of the story,” he says. “My cholesterol wasn’t high, I’d never smoked, but my diet wasn’t great and I had been a binge drinker. In my case, lifestyle no doubt contributed to the early onset of this problem.”