Shifting gears: How Giles Navigates Heart Health

Heart health
Success Stories
February 9, 2024

Giles Hudson’s life took an unforeseen detour when he fell ill in early 2020, leading to a battle with lingering symptoms and a serious heart condition. Thanks to his perseverance he emerged as “Giles 2.0”. Read more about his experience and resilience.

Giles Hudson, 55, lives about five miles north of Coventry, in the heart of England. A trained marine zoologist who shifted gears to become a marketer, Giles fuels his passion for cars as a test driver for the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA). He’s an expert in control behind the wheel of Jaguars and Land Rovers, navigating the twists and turns of the road with precision.

But much like a test track, life can throw unexpected detours our way. One day, Giles’ journey took a sharp and unforeseen turn, reminding us that no matter how much we steer our lives with confidence, we’re not immune to unpredictability. In late February 2020, on the cusp of the pandemic, Giles fell ill. He battled a high fever for over ten days and, although he never required hospitalization, he says the illness left him with lingering symptoms.

“It was a complete turnaround,” Giles recalls. “I’ve always been reasonably healthy. I don’t drink, don’t carry a lot of weight, and I’ve never had any issues with my heart.” But the aftermath of the virus was a different story.” Giles found himself plagued by exhaustion, brain fog, and an inability to concentrate. 

As the months passed, Giles’ physical health did not improve. He began to experience anxiety and depression, and it was unlike anything he had ever been through. “I was the one at the end of the soap operas on the telly where they say, ‘If you’ve been affected by anything you see on this program, call the 800 number…’ That’s what I felt.” His doctor, recognizing the severity of his condition, signed him off work for three months, prescribing rest and time outdoors. But recovery took longer than expected, and it wasn’t until August 2021 that Giles felt ready to return to work at the University of Coventry’s marketing department.

However, a startling observation one morning—in which he saw a visible heartbeat pulsing through his shirt—prompted an urgent visit to the doctor. After an ECG, Giles was admitted to the hospital with a heart rate of 155 beats per minute. He was given a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and mitral regurgitation, meaning his heart was not efficiently pumping blood, leading to pooling and an increased risk of clotting.

During his month-long hospital stay, Giles faced a critical decision regarding his treatment. “They offered me a mechanical valve, a pig heart valve, or to repair my own,” he explains. Due to his young age, the doctors advised that the repair would be the best bet for him, as it would last the longest out of the three options, so he went with that. It was an invasive procedure and required a lengthy recovery at his parents’ home followed by a rigorous rehabilitation program.

Giles said he left the hospital as “Giles 2.0” and in May 2022, he decided to invest in his health by getting himself a ScanWatch Horizon to monitor his heart, saying “It was like treating myself to a new version of me.” 

In December 2023 that investment truly paid off. In a few instances where Giles’ heart rate remained elevated despite medication, he received high heart rate notifications on his smartwatch, which prompted him to seek medical attention. During his appointment, he showed data from the Withings app to his care team, which helped them make informed treatment decisions, including increasing his dosage and scheduling a procedure for his atrial flutter.

As is par for the course when you experience a life-changing event, Giles had a huge shift in perspective, “Money is important, but it’s not the end all be all. It’s only after something like that, that you realize health is everything.” Reflecting on his experience, Giles offers advice to others who may be navigating similar health challenges. He says you might benefit from it “for the reassurance” and adds, “if you have had cardiac issues particularly, think of a ScanWatch as a silent friend constantly looking out for you.”

Giles’ journey is a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. When life takes its unexpected—and inevitable—twists and turns, we can adapt and overcome. And it doesn’t hurt to have a silent guardian on your wrist watching over your heart, every beat of the way.