When heart attack struck, Leiper's thoughts turned to son

When Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper realized he was having a heart attack last week, his thoughts turned to his son, a second-year university student.

City councillor suffered health scare while shovelling snow

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, centre, recovers at the Ottawa Heart Insititute following his angioplasty on Feb. 13, 2019. He's joined by his wife, Natalie Hanson, and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. (Jeff Leiper)

When Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper realized he was having a heart attack last week, his thoughts turned to his son, a second-year university student.

"He's in Toronto, and through the entire experience ... I was quite terrified I wasn't going to be able to talk to him one more time," he told Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan on Monday.

Leiper, 48, had been shovelling snow Wednesday morning when he began feeling unwell.

"I had been shovelling for quite some time, and throughout I had to take a lot more breaks than I'm used to. I was feeling quite tired. I decided I had to stop," he said.

"When I got in the house I had pain coming up through my jaw and my back, heart palpitations, a cold sweat. I couldn't catch my breath, so we phoned the ambulance and went to the Heart Institute."

Doctors there successfully performed an angioplasty to open a badly clogged artery, saving Leiper's life. Since then he's been in recovery, briefly in hospital and now at home.

Smoked 30 years

Leiper, who's well-known as an avid cyclist has even run marathons, surprised many when he revealed he's also been a smoker for 30 years. 

"I was barely back in the room from the angioplasty before the smoking cessation unit was sent to talk to me and slapped a [nicotine] patch on me," Leiper said.

Leiper is full of praise for the program, and has already appeared in an Ottawa Public Health video about his experience, and his determination to kick the habit.

Leiper said he's just beginning to understand his physical limitations while he works on his recovery.

"When I was in the hospital room I was going a little bit squirrely.​ I was ready to get back to work. Now that I'm back home, 20 minutes of walking around is a little bit winding."

He thinks he'll be back to the office by the end of the month. The Feb. 27 council meeting is a maybe. For now, he's following doctor's orders by ignoring most emails and phone calls, and letting his staff take care of the day-to-day matters.

CBC's Ottawa Morning


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