'Can't … make more time': 45-year-old surprised by heart attack

Up until two weeks ago Jeff Brant considered himself a healthy, middle-aged man.

"I'm 45 years old, I exercise four to five times a week. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I eat relatively healthy," Brant told CBC Radio: Island Morning's Matt Rainnie.

The P.E.I. man also coaches youth sports. On Aug. 23 he was running a practice with his under-13 girls team in Summerside. It was a light practice, just to keep the girls sharp in advance of a playoff game that weekend. 

"I went for a final run, trying to catch one of the players in the scrimmage, and — you know, I've played sports my entire life so I'm fairly physically active — and I just got this really sharp pain in my chest," he said.

He shut down the practice and called his team into a huddle.

"I said, 'I'm going to keep this fairly short because I think I'm having a heart attack.' One of the girls is like, 'Do you want to call an ambulance?' I said, 'No, no. I'm just joking.' And I was joking," said Brant.

Denial

He drove from the practice to his home in Bedeque, thinking he had pulled a muscle in his chest.

He had cold sweats a couple of times on the way. When he got home he told his wife he didn't feel well. The pain in his chest had begun to run down his arm and up the side of his face into his jaw.

He Googled heart attack, and even though he had some of the symptoms, he couldn't believe that's what was happening to him. He decided to lie down and rest, but then he was struck by nausea. When he came out of the bathroom, having been sick, his wife took him to the hospital.

"We drove in again, probably in hindsight not the smartest thing to do, but I didn't want to scare my kids," he said.

The doctors confirmed he was having a heart attack, and he was in an ambulance heading to Saint John by midnight. He had a stent put in his heart the next day.

Despite the delay, he did get in soon enough that there was no damage to his heart

'It seemed to go so fast'

He wasn't frightened at the time. It was only later, when he had time to reflect, that Brant said he realized how close to dying he was.

"It seemed to go so fast," he said.

"I was at a point where when I'm lying on the gurney and they're taking me out to the ambulance in Summerside, I'm wanting to tell my wife all this stuff just in case something happens."

Because there was no lasting damage, his recovery has been quick. Since that day, Brant has taken the time to think again about how he is living his life. He has taken note of how much sodium is in the food he's eating, and rethinking how much time he spends on his business.

"The one thing I can't do is make more time," said Brant.

"I've spent a lot of time with my kids, and I can't put a price tag on that. It certainly made me look at what I have in life and be a lot more thankful."

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With files from Island Morning