Hawke's Bay man Lachlan Puzey let's nothing get the way of his goals - not even heart disease.

His life was turned upside down at the age of 17 where upon finishing high school,
he celebrated the milestone by attending a concert in Gisborne with a group of friends.

His mother, registered health nurse Sheena Puzey, said during the trip he began to experience flu like symptoms and sought medical help due to a high temperature along with aches and pains.

He returned home to Auckland - where he was based at the time, but his condition continued to deteriorate to the point where he woke up in the middle of the night with severe chest pains and shortness of breath.


"Fortunately, he took action and went to an accident and emergency centre where and ECG and blood samples were taken. The staff decided to call an ambulance and sent him to Middlemore hospital coronary care."

He was diagnosed with a condition called Myocarditis, a disease that causes inflammation of the heart with some of the symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, an irregular heart beat and difficulty exercising.

"Having worked in coronary care before, I was worried sick. Every instance of chest pain he was experiencing would trigger even more anxiety in me," Puzey said.

Luckily, due to the early diagnosis, he was able to start a course of medication - and while he'll need to take it for the rest of his life it will prevent any further damage to his heart.

Puzey had to make a tough call and pull out of university, leaving him with nothing to do.

"Being such an extroverted person, it was very hard for him as he felt isolated and restricted by his condition."

After her own personal run in with heart disease Sheena Puzey is now collecting for the Heart Foundation. Photo / Supplied.
After her own personal run in with heart disease Sheena Puzey is now collecting for the Heart Foundation. Photo / Supplied.

Despite the tough decision, he was able to begin walking again, along with gentle exercise - but it would be a year before he could play group and contact sport.

"He certainly hasn't allowed heart issues to put a dampener on enjoying his youth. He also went on to complete a Bachelor of Commerce in two and a half years."

As her career is based working in the health sector, Sheena has now registered as a street collector to help raise funds during the Heart Foundation's Big Heart Appeal which began on Friday, February 22 and will finish today.

"I feel a strong connection with the Heart Foundation - it's an important cause. This is largely down to Lachlan's experience, my job as a nurse, the fact that my father also had heart issues and my knowledge of New Zealand's heart disease statistics."

Heart disease is New Zealand's single biggest killer, claiming the lives of over 6500 New Zealanders every year - one person every 90 minutes.