It happens sometimes that severe pain in the chest region has me calling an ambulance. As a senior person the thought of a heart attack is unpleasant. On one occasion I drove my care to the emergency centre of the local hospital only to find out that there was nothing wrong with the organ. Years ago an episode was diagnosed as reflux due to a hiatus hernia and it warned me that this condition would recur, and that’s probably the cause of the pain.

Once when it happened I had been bending over while weeding the garden and about an hour later the pain was severe. This sent me again to the hospital by ambulance and the heart was once more OK. Now I have a small wrist blood pressure machine that tells me what the body is doing and it has eased the worry considerably.

Recently a doctor on the television advised patients with these symptoms to take a glass of water some 15 minutes before eating. That apparently stops acid build up in the digestive system and sounds to me like good advice.

Meanwhile I have learned to manage my problem. My advice is not to bend over but to lower the body using the knees when picking something off the ground. A change of diet has also helped and the time of eating the main meal of day has shifted from the evening to the late morning. A smaller meal at night is more beneficial because it is not heavy on the stomach while sleeping.

The other adjustment I have made is less bread and for breakfast a smoothie has replaced the oats that was part of my previous diet. It is made with extra protein yoghurt, at least five fruits which consist of banana, kiwi fruit, apple, pear, and berries, and a stick of celery. This gives a good balance and makes for a delicious filling repast without the gluten of oats. Avoiding fatty foods is another great benefit.

There are other benefits of such a closely managed diet. Headaches are a thing of the past since cutting out sugar and salt from the diet. Now my blood pressure is usually around 120 over 80 and the heart rate of somewhere between 70 to 80.

As with anything we need to manage pain by understanding its cause. Once we do that the solution is usually obvious. Heartburn and reflux is now a thing of the past for me as there has not been an episode for months.

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