Registered charity in England No 1144451

Affiliated to the British Heart Foundation

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A voluntary self-funding group of heart patients and their careers that help patients and careers face the future

Objectives and Overview Click Here

Welcome to the Hearts & Minds Website

Just to let you know what we are all about and what we do to help Cardiac Patients and their Careers

Donations to

Hearts & Minds

We have had a few people asking how they can donate to Hearts & Minds so we thought it would be a good time to place a link direct to our Just Giving page.

Click here for page

Remember, if you are a UK Taxpayer, please tick the Gift Aid box. For every £1 donated the government adds 25p. It’s free money for the group.

Next Meeting Monday 18th September 2017

Buddy System

We are very keen to establish a “buddy” network as part of the group’s continuing desire to provide practical support to patients and families who have experienced a cardiac event. We are seeking volunteers from within the group to offer their time to speak to patients who are recently discharged from hospital or about to go in to have a procedure or a carer who has a full list of worries and concerns for the wellbeing of their partner.  This opportunity to speak with someone who has gone through what you are about to can prove to be invaluable. We believe that everybody will benefit from speaking to somebody who has “been there, done that and bought the T Shirt” (you can actually buy the T Shirt from us!). This will not be a case of having people ringing you at all times of the day. The patients will be closely matched so that their condition matches your own and they will be told a time to call that is convenient for you. Please cast your mind back to your own event and consider how useful it would have been to have the opportunity to speak with someone.

Are you doing enough ? Click link below from the BHF

Lack of exercise may lead to twice as many deaths as obesity, study claims

Welcome to five new members

In the spirit of travel, exploration and adventure, please welcome

Ranulph, Philleas, Walter, Scott and Marco to the group.

As part of our aim to inspire people we want to get the message across that there are opportunities to live a fulfilled life after a cardiac event. An element of life that is important to many people is the ability to take a holiday. We already know that many of our members regularly manage to get away to various locations within the UK, Europe and fu  rther abroad. We need to let current patients know that, in most cases, travel is still an option. To enforce this we have purchased five travel teddies for members to take away on their travels. There are three criteria for taking one off the teddies away with you:

1. The teddy must come back in good condition,

2. You need to supply a picture to be put up in Rehab,

3.  Copy to for the website,

BHF have updated four of their popular booklets in the Heart Information Series about different heart conditions and treatments, including

blood pressure - peripheral arterial disease

 atrial fibrillation - heart transplant  

Click on the above links to download these booklets

Each booklet includes patient case studies and they offer a valuable source of information and support to patients and their families.

  From the Hospital  

First patients in East of England fitted with world’s smallest pacemaker


Dr Stuart Harris, consultant cardiologist at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, compares a traditional pacemaker (left hand) with the new leadless version (right hand)

Two patients at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) have been implanted with the world’s smallest pacemaker, in the first procedures of this type to be carried out in the East of England.

The cutting edge devices are less than one tenth of the size of a conventional pacemaker, and do not require a lead to be threaded into the heart.

The implants were carried out by Dr Stuart Harris, consultant cardiologist and clinical director of the CTC at Basildon University Hospital.

Dr Harris explains: “A traditional pacemaker involves a device the size of a tea bag to be implanted under the skin in the upper chest. A lead from the pacemaker is threaded into the heart to carry electrical signals to help it beat regularly.

“The new Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, known as the invisible pacemaker, is 93% smaller than a traditional pacemaker and lasts as long. No lead is required because it is small enough to be implanted into the heart chamber through a vein in the patient’s leg, in a minimally invasive procedure.

“The component of a traditional pacemaker that is most likely to fail is the lead, so these new pacemakers are more reliable. And because they are so small, the implant only involves a small incision, meaning a reduced risk of infection for the patient, no visible sign of the device and a greater chance of resuming their normal activities.”

A pacemaker is designed to send an electrical impulse to the heart when the rhythm is too slow or is interrupted. It also monitors the heart’s activity, and does not deliver a pacing pulse when that is normal. The new leadless pacemaker is suitable for patients who need a pacemaker for a single chamber of the heart.

Joshua Taylor, aged 25, (left) was the first patient to receive the leadless pacemaker at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre. Joshua, a pharmacy store manager and pharmacy technician, had experienced unexplained black-outs since he was 11 years old.

He said: “I was under the care of a specialist children’s hospital, and had every test under the sun, but they couldn’t work out why I was fainting. The problem went away for a few years then last year I had a black-out as I was getting ready for bed. I was unconscious for a few minutes.”

Joshua was referred to Basildon Hospital to see Dr Jason Dungu, consultant cardiologist. He was given several tests, including seven day electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring to check the rhythm and electrical activity of his heart, blood pressure monitoring and an echocardiogram (heart scan). The results showed his heartbeat was pausing at intervals.

He continued: “I was fitted with a heart monitor and at my first follow-up appointment, the doctors saw that the pauses had increased.

“Dr Dungu said I would need a pacemaker and he would refer me to Dr Harris in the CTC to have one of the new leadless ones fitted.

“When I met Dr Harris he gave me a very good explanation of the new technology; he had recently been for training in the United States. Being the first patient to receive a leadless pacemaker made me feel slightly apprehensive, but I could see the advantages and he reassured me that if there were any problems, I could have a traditional one fitted.”

Outside his work, Joshua edits a pharmacy technicians’ trade journal and plays the piano. He has now returned to his job in the pharmacy store and is looking forward to resuming his busy life.

He added: “I feel very well. The care and treatment at the CTC has been amazing.”

Issued by: Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Communications Office

Heart patients group raises £50,000 for hospital equipment and offers two defibrillators to the community

Patients with heart conditions at Basildon University Hospital and The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) are benefiting from specialist equipment, thanks to the fundraising efforts of a local cardiac support group.

Basildon Hearts and Minds is run by people with heart problems and offers support and information to others who have conditions such as angina and heart attack. They work closely with the hospital cardiac rehabilitation teams.

The group has also purchased two life-saving defibrillators and is inviting local clubs, schools and businesses to apply to receive one.

Donations from Hearts and Minds to Basildon Hospital recently passed the £50,000 milestone. Among the items the hospital has purchased with the funds is an exercise stress echo bike, or e-bike, used for specialist tests such as myocardial perfusion scans (mibi).

A mibi scan is used to investigate the blood supply to the heart. The test is done under stress and again at rest. While the patient is exercising they are injected with a radioactive isotope, which shows up in a scan of the heart, usually done 45 minutes later.

The patient eats a fatty snack beforehand, which helps absorb excess isotope from areas such as the digestive system. This helps to give clearer images of the heart. Images are taken to show the areas of myocardium (heart muscle) where the blood is reaching and whether there is damage to the heart muscle. If there are areas of the heart that are not glowing with isotope, it indicates a lack of blood to the area and possible blockage in the coronary artery supplying that area.

The patient returns a few days later and has another injection and scan when at rest, and the images are analysed by the consultant.

Carmen Zerafa, cardiac nurse specialist, explains: “Before we got the e-bike we used a treadmill for the stress part of the mibi test, which elderly and disabled patients were either unable to use or found difficult to use. It is also much safer for all patients to be seated during the exercise.

“We wanted this particular bike because it can also be used to diagnose patients with other cardiac conditions, such as valve disease and some congenital conditions. We make good use of it every day and it has done wonders for the service.

“We could not have developed this service without the kind support of Hearts and Minds; many thanks to all those involved.”

Michael King, aged 69, from South Ockendon, had a stroke in August 2015 and a mini stroke in October.

Michael said: “I have recovered but I am having these tests so the hospital can work out why I had the stroke. It’s a very good service that has done well by me.”

Defibrillators save lives

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. Defibrillation is an essential life- saving step.

There are many defibrillators available in public places such as train stations, shopping centres, airport and leisure centres. They are also known as public access defibrillators (PAD) and come with clear instructions on how to use them, so that anyone can use them in an emergency.

Prompt use of a defibrillator if a person is in cardiac arrest can significantly boost their chances of survival and recovery.

One person who can vouch for this is Tony Kerrigan, who had a cardiac arrest in his local gym early this year.

Tony, a postman, was 62 at the time, and had gone to the gym after work.

He recalls: “I’d been on the treadmill, then had a sauna. As I was walking up a flight of stairs, I remember someone talking to me and then nothing after that.

“I had never had cardiac episode before I do have a family history of heart problems and I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (irregular pulse) in 2013.

“I had always been very active, playing football until I was 50, and I had been told to carry on exercising.”

Fortunately for Tony, Club Kingswood in Basildon has a defibrillator and he was resuscitated by staff who performed CPR and defibrillation after finding him collapsed.

He was taken to the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre at Basildon Hospital, and had a quadruple by-pass operation. Following surgery he completed cardiac rehabilitation and has made a good recovery. Doctors said that the fact he was very fit meant the damage to his heart was reduced.

He added: “I wasn’t really aware of defibrillators before but I owe my life to the team at the gym and the fact they had a defibrillator. I was so lucky they had installed it.”

Win a defibrillator

Issued by: Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Communications Office

Winners of our defibrillator competition held lin November last year were The Pitsea Mount Community Association.

Mr Peter Nicol accepted the defibrillator on their behalf  

September 18th – Andrew Babicz will be talking on a gardening related topic. Andrew is a professional

Horticulturalist with many years experience, including RHS Wisley, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace.

Currently Secretary and judge for the London Gardens Society.

August 18th - Bingo Night. Steve has again offered to run our Bingo evening. The tickets are now on sale, but

hurry – they are going fast. Contact Steve on 07719 718469 for tickets, priced at £7.50 which includes a fish and chip supper. Remember, no ticket, no supper! The books will be on sale on the evening at £6 each and a pay bar will also be available, please feel free to bring along some nibbles (low fat of course!) As in previous years, the

event will be in the usual hall at the Laindon Centre – 7pm for 7.30pm.