A LOCAL travel agent has told how he found himself trapped abroad after suffering a serious heart attack while on vacation.
David Anton, who runs the Largs Travel Company, was two days after a sunny break in Malta when he became short of breath and felt unwell.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat, putting the 64-year-old at risk of life-threatening clots.
This meant his week-long trip to Malta had to be extended while he received treatment and a certificate of fitness deeming him safe to travel.
David explained: “Once your heart starts to miss a beat it can actually create clots, so they need to thin your blood and give you the proper treatment.
“I had to deal with insurance companies and they insisted I couldn’t fly again until I got my ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate from the doctors.
“It was a very different vacation – it was supposed to be a week-long relaxation break, and instead I stayed there for just over two.”
David recalled when he was sick overseas.
He said: “I was walking up an incline and started to get really out of breath. As soon as I tried to exercise I realized something was wrong. My sister was with me and She asked me if I was okay.
“It was a scary experience, I knew right away something was wrong.
“The hotel staff directed me to the hospital and when I arrived they said I couldn’t leave.
“I was put on machines and told it was not safe for me to fly as I was at real risk of becoming seriously ill on the plane.
“At first I thought it was asthma and was using my pump, but luckily one of the people in our group was a cardiac nurse who insisted I go to check out.”
Doctors explained that David’s condition could cause a clot, which could travel in altitude.
He added: “The insurance company was great and said they would pay for the next available flight once I was cleared to fly.
“I was grateful for that because you don’t need the extra stress when you’re in that situation.
“I had an echocardiogram done by a doctor who has completed his final year of training at the Wishaw infirmary. The treatment was excellent and I was really looked after.
“The fact that I was with people who immediately realized what was wrong with me was very lucky.”
David was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation upon his return to Scotland.
He added: “I came back to work for about two weeks. I was told to calm down and not over exert myself, luckily I was able to work from home.”
David is an avid tennis player but says the sport will have to be put on hold while he recovers.
He added: “I’ve been going around hospital appointments since I got back.
“I have to take certain medications for a while and it looks like I might also need cardioversion, which is a procedure used to bring an abnormal heartbeat back to normal.
“I knew the theory of travel health insurance which I distribute to my clients every day, but I had never had to put it into practice personally abroad. I now know how vital it is and I am very grateful to all the help and support I have received.”