Hebburn dad hit by a heart attack in the Great North Run 2022 gets set for this year’s event

A Hebburn dad is preparing to take on the Great North Run after suffering from a heart attack in last year’s race.

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Daniel Johnson, who lives in Hebburn and is originally from Newcastle, is preparing to take on the Great North Run on Sunday, September 10, after he suffered from a heart attack during last year’s half marathon.

The 42-year-old was on the Felling Bypass when he started to feel unwell and despite battling on, he came to a stop and sat on the grass verge.

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Two good Samaritans, who were also taking part in the run, helped him to the St John Ambulance help point near Lingley Lane, where its team helped blue light him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

It was there where medical professionals confirmed that he was having a heart attack and worked to stabilise him.

The dad-of-one was then transferred to the Freeman Hospital where specialists used angioplasty under local anaesthetic to access his arteries through his wrist.

Daniel Johnson and his wife Caroline. Photo: Other 3rd Party.Daniel Johnson and his wife Caroline. Photo: Other 3rd Party.
Daniel Johnson and his wife Caroline. Photo: Other 3rd Party.

As they removed a one-inch blood clot which caused his heart attack, Daniel experienced a dangerous heart rhythm and a defibrillator was used to restore his normal pulse.

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Doctors also cleared plaque from his arteries and put in a stent to help keep a section open – he has since had another fitted.

Following his treatment, he has been working through his rehabilitation with South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s award-winning cardiac rehabilitation team.

During his tailored rehab sessions at Hebburn Central, he has been taught how to regain his fitness and keep well.

Now Daniel, who is married to Caroline, 39, and is dad to Ivy, five, is looking forward to getting over the finish line in what will be his third Great North Run.

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He said: “The help I’ve been given has been constant ever since my heart attack. When I came out of the Freeman it was great, they contacted me straight away and it was a help to be able to talk to someone.

“I was put in touch with Simone Rowlands, who is in charge of the cardiac team, and from my first appointment, it was nice to have everything explained to me clearly, not in very medical terms.

“I was started on a six-month cardiac rebab course. They tell you about what food to eat, how to get your heart to be strong again and how to build it up slowly using low intensity exercise like walking.

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“There’s no pushing, it’s more about scaling up and doing it at your own pace to suit you, but it’s also about having someone to talk to and taking the advice of the cardiac nurses.

“Other people who have heard I’ve had a heart attack have said ‘How can you do that now?’ but I never backed that idea from the start.

“I’ve concentrated on coming back from it and people seem to think I’m mad for doing it and say I should take it easy, but I want to live well.

Daniel taking part in the Gateshead half marathon. Photo: Other 3rd PartyDaniel taking part in the Gateshead half marathon. Photo: Other 3rd Party
Daniel taking part in the Gateshead half marathon. Photo: Other 3rd Party

“I’ve had great care in the last year and I can never portray how thankful I feel to everyone for what they have done for me to help me recover.

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“It’s a running joke that my time for this year’s Great North Run will be 364 days, two hours and 25 minutes, but I’m looking forward to getting over the finishing line this time.”

Simone, the Trust’s Project Lead for Cardiac Rehabilitation in South Tyneside, added: “We’re all wishing Daniel a brilliant Great North Run.

“It’s a real team effort and Daniel’s recovery shows how well someone can be with our help. I hope it highlights to others this service and the excellent work the team does.”

Since his ordeal, Daniel has discovered that his heart attack was due to coronary artery disease and he has family links to the condition, as his mam Doreen had a heart attack, aged 46 - she is currently well.

Daniel, who works on the railway, has made changes to maintain a healthy lifestyle and even goes to the gym in the building where he took part in his tailored rehab sessions.