Fred Lefaoseu saw himself as an active man, who played president’s grade rugby and walked regularly. So it came as a huge shock when he had a heart attack last year, at the age of just 42.
The Samoan father of 3, who lives in Island Bay, had just returned from an exercise class when he started to sweat and lost feeling in both his arms. By midnight he had severe chest pain, which prompted him to go to hospital. The nurse suspected a heart attack, which was confirmed by an electrocardiograph exam.
Once he was home, with the blessing of his GP, Fred joined He Tama Wairua, He Tama Tinana. The course consisted of 3 exercise sessions and a 1-hour education session a week.
‘My father was a type 2 diabetic and died of a heart attack at 65. My cholesterol was high and my weight was not ideal. I knew I had to do something.’
Fred now ‘does everything right’. He’s lost 15 kg, eats 8+ fruits and vegetables a day, and limits red meat, salt, sugar and alcohol.
He says the weekly education sessions were really informative and helpful. A dietician spoke about how to eat well for a healthy heart and two people spoke one evening about dialysis and what it was like living with diabetes.
Fred says he also now realises it’s important to monitor his own health. He gets blood tests every year on his birthday and has signed up online to the ‘Manage My Health’ system, which means he can see his medical notes and get reminders about his medication and appointments. His cardio surgeon at Wellington Hospital can also access the system which ensures a seamless approach to his care.
‘Unfortunately, people only tend to change when something happens to them,’ says Fred, ‘but I will never forget the look on my kids’ faces when they walked into my hospital room. I never want to see that look again.’
This story is part of Karori Medical Centre – Supporting patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Read the next story in this series: A life saver and life changer for Rod.