A WEST Dorset man who rapidly gained weight after he was diagnosed with a heart condition is backing new NHS guidelines to ‘lose a little and keep it off’ for life.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) wants overweight people sent to slimming classes with the aim of a 3 per cent weight loss.

And Chris Powell, who lost nearly four stone at Slimming World in Beaminster, is urging people to take notice.

The 46-year-old’s problems started when he was taken to the doctors with a suspected heart attack two years ago.

He was rushed to Dorset County Hospital and told his heart rate had risen to 180 beats per minute and was also diagnosed with heart condition Atrial Fibrillation.

Mr Powell said: “Over the next year I stopped doing any real exercise and I stopped exerting myself in any way that would cause my heart rate to rise and I began to realise I was unconsciously scared that my heart would speed up again and not slow down. I also realised how much weight I had put on.

He added: “I was never small but I had risen to 20 stone.”

His weight concerns sparked a visit to the doctor who issued Mr Powell with 50 per cent off gym membership and 12 weeks free at Slimming World.

He said that he has lost weight by eating healthily and going to the gym.”

Two in three adults in England are overweight – with a BMI higher than 25.

Someone weighing 15st 10lb would need to lose just over six pounds to cut their weight by 3 per cent.

NICE said even such a small loss – probably of just a few pounds – would cut blood pressure and reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and some cancers.

Mr Powell, of Mosterton, said: “I fully support the NHS GP referrals as it worked for me.

“Good food, good support, great results.”

He thanked the Slimming World group which meets every Wednesday in Beaminster Public Hall. For information on the Beaminster group call 01308 861486.

THIS week is Heart Rhythm Week and many people, like Chris Powell, suffer with Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

Members of NHS Dorset CCG will join hundreds of others across the country to raise awareness of Heart Rhythm Week.

The national campaign is organised by Arrhythmia Alliance (A-A), The Heart Rhythm Charity.

AF is the most common heart rhythm disorder, which carries a fivefold increased risk of stroke.

In Dorset, the prevalence of AF is higher than the national average.

During flu clinics last year, practices in Weymouth and Portland took part in a pilot screening project and diagnosed 22 patients with AF.

Visit the NHS Choices website for information.