Making a positive change

18:49, Jun 19 2014
 Gavin and Evelyn McLea
CHANGE OF HEART: The death of Lyall Daines’ father Vern DainesntsTnte lead him to a healthy life.

Wanted: Men dedicated to a healthier life. Mission: To live and eat well. Following the success of men's health week, reporter Heather Simpson hears from men and clinicians that it takes more than one week to make you a new man.

The death of Lyall Daines' father from a heart attack in 1972 saved his life more than 30 years later.

Vern Daines had been fit and healthy but had an undiagnosed, life-threatening heart condition.

He died at the age of 54 in front of his son.

In 2006, 67-year-old Lyall Daines, was gardening at his home in Blenheim when he suffered a shortness of breath and a burning sensation in his chest. He knew the warning signs all too well.

"All I could remember was my dad in the back of my mind and I went to my GP."


He had suffered a minor heart attack and was diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition that caused a blockage in an artery.

Like his father he was an active sportsman as a rugby referee up to Ranfurly Shield level.

"Dad hadn't been given a second chance. I had been hit by a pebble, not a boulder.

"I thought I have been given a second chance, I am going to make the most of it," he said.

"If I hadn't lost my father I would have probably ignored the symptoms and might not be here today."

In September, Lyall Daines suffered a second heart attack and had two stents inserted to open up a blocked artery.

He walks 3 kilometres every day and has lost 10 kilograms, taking him down to 80kg. He has halved his cholesterol levels.

He takes his healthy lifestyle so seriously he keeps a spreadsheet that tracks his weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

"I have a copper friend who still drinks his stubbies and he is overweight. He is 10 years younger than me. Sometimes I think I will get a call one day to say he has dropped dead."

He wants to give hope to others by showing that tackling a health problem head on and with a positive mindset can make a difference.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board head cardiologist Nick Fisher said obesity was a poison to the heart, but eating clean and exercising could reverse the effects of heart disease.

Heart disease was more prevalent in men than women and often happened younger in men. The majority of people he operated on were acute cases of heart attacks and chest pain - people who had "left it too late", he said.

In New Zealand, one-third of people are deemed overweight and one-third as obese. We are ranked the fourth most obese country in the world.

"Men have to realise that coronary heart disease is a progressive disease," Fisher said.

"You can't turn back the clock. You can't change who your parents are, your age or gender but you can change your diet, exercise and stop smoking to make a huge impact.

"Obesity is a poison to the heart. It causes more than high cholesterol, diabetes and heart problems. It can be reversed by a healthy lifestyle.

"You don't have to follow fad diets. Just don't eat anything from a cellophane packet or fast food and you will be good."

Our heart failure admission rate is the lowest in New Zealand, which the health board sees as reflecting Nelson Hospital's intervention cardiology service.

The Marlborough Express