A COUNCILLOR has urged sufferers of chest pain to get checked out after what he thought was heartburn proved to be a heart attack.

Cllr Michael-John Saunders and his family were stunned after what he believed was a minor ailment led him to having heart surgery.

The 51-year-old, representing Cookham and Bisham at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, has vowed to change his lifestyle and spread awareness after his unsettling experience.

After visiting his GP at the beginning of this month with heartburn-like sensations he was rushed to Harefield hospital to be treated for a heart attack.

“In my case, three of the arteries feeding blood to my heart became blocked causing the heart to suffer a trauma,” Cllr Saunders said.

“After a blood test, they identified an enzyme which only exists if the heart is suffering.”

Cllr Saunders laid awake on an operating table where tiny holes were made to his thigh to unblock the arteries and stents were inserted.

The councillor believes genetics and a past smoking habit were probably the main causes.

“I will definitely never smoke again, watch the consumption of animal fat, exercise more and avoid alcohol,” he said.

It has been a testing time for the family, with wife Karen finally now declared cancer free after five years battling breast cancer.

He hopes to return to work soon and said he will now spread the word about the condition.

He said: “If you don’t have previous experience of heart attack, you wouldn’t know you’re having one and I intend to follow up in order for this to be better understood.”

He had this message to others: “If you are having pains in your chest, it is important to report to get it seen as it will be most likely a heart trauma.”

He praised the NHS staff at Harefield, which is a renowned heart specialist hospital, in Middlesex, close to the Bucks border.