He's in far better heart, now

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 12:17 15/02/2013
Peter Kennett
GWYNETH HYNDMAN/Fairfax NZ
Invercargill man Peter Kennett, who was in hospital this week for treatment for cellulitis, plans to be out on the streets today collecting for the Heart Foundation appeal.

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Peter Kennett's heart attack six months ago did not happen the way he had seen it in the movies.

There was no clutching of the heart, or gasping for breath for the semi-retired Invercargill principal who only thought he might have a touch of food poisoning from his usual weekend dinner of fish and chips, followed by a bag of lollies.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Kennett, who will be on the streets today with an appeal bucket for the Heart Foundation collection, described how his heart attack in June could have been shrugged off - and as a consequence he could have been one of the more than 5000 people in New Zealand who die of heart disease every year.

"It was just a restless night walking around the house, then down to the mailbox and back, feeling both restless and depressed," he said. "It wasn't theatrical. I was probably sitting at the computer when it happened."

Friends saw him rubbing his arm the next night while at a family gathering. When told of his symptoms, they told him to go straight to the emergency department - a blood test confirmed he had suffered a major heart attack. He was sent back to hospital and booked in for a quintuple bypass for five blockages in his arteries.

Mr Kennett has had a major lifestyle change since his operation in July, losing 10 kilograms and lowering his cholesterol as a result. Fish and chips are banned and lollies are monitored. Fruit and vegetables and a morning breakfast of high-fibre cereals are his staple.

Mr Kennett said he now reads labels for fat and sugar content, even if they have a "heart healthy" check or claim to be "light", which could be deceiving. He walked more and his wife Noelene also changed her eating habits, losing about 30kg.

Funds raised during Heart Week - including today's appeal - will go towards heart research and programmes to encourage healthy lifestyle changes.

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