Bream’s Rob set for an epic bike ride after major heart op

Wednesday 25th May 2022 6:00 am
Rob Sanderson
(Rob Sanderson )

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A KEEN veteran cyclist is aiming to ride 800 miles and climb 22,000 metres just nine months after a triple heart bypass operation.

Rob Sanderson from Bream has set himself the target of riding the Great North Trail from Derbyshire to Cape Wrath on the north coast of Scotland over 18 days next month to raise £5,000 for the British Heart Foundation.

The 67-year-old starts his ride on June 2, and said: “To show that it’s possible to return to an active life after heart surgery and to raise funds for the BHF, I wanted to set myself a difficult and meaningful personal challenge.

“So riding nearly 800 miles, mainly off road, and climbing 22,000m (two and a half times the height of Everest) from Derbyshire to Cape Wrath fits the bill.”

Rob revealed how he was diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition at the age of 31, for which he has taken statins to control high cholesterol ever since.

“Knowing that the risk of coronary heart disease later in life may be reduced through regular exercise and generally keeping fit, and as previous back surgery and knee problems precluded running and many other sports, I started cycling more, particularly enjoying mountain biking as it became popular in the 1990s,” he added.

“During the 2010s, each year I organised challenging week-long mountain bike trips to remote areas in Scotland, Wales, and I also spent three weeks riding off-road in New Zealand.

“But early in 2021, at the age of 66, I noticed some pain in my chest at the start of my bike rides.

“Initially I put this down to the effects of cycling in cold weather or to a chest infection.

“However, within a few weeks I started to also feel pain in my right arm while riding, so I contacted my GP, who referred me to the Gloucestershire NHS Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic.

“Various tests followed, confirming a mild heart attack and angina, leading to an angiogram with the expectation of having stents fitted. “However, the coronary heart disease was very severe, and I subsequently had a triple bypass operation in Bristol.”

But nine months on and looking forward to his epic charity challenge he says: “Heart problems do not necessarily mean the end of an active lifestyle.

“One of the benefits of regular moderate or vigorous activity is the development of the secondary (or collateral) blood vessels that supply the heart, which can make a real difference when coronary heart disease significantly blocks the main coronary arteries, so what might have been a major heart attack is reduced to a lesser event.”

He encouraged people to get their cholesterol levels checked, to take action if needed and get fit and keep fit.

Rob says the BHF has helped halve the number of people dying from heart and circulatory disease in the UK, but sadly every day hundreds of people lose their lives.

“It’s only thanks to support from people like us that the BHF can create new treatments and discover new cures. Just £24 could pay for two hours of research by an early career scientist, but every pound helps so please give what you can to help me hit my target. Thanks!”

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