Knowing there is only a one in 10 chance of survival following a heart attack away from the hospital, Phil Hamer says he owes his life to an off-duty nurse who gave him CPR after he collapsed in the street.
The 63-year-old from Fulwood was visiting a friend in Hull when his heart failed him. As a nurse living nearby performed CPR, she was able to keep him alive before paramedics came.
Now five years on, Phil is a picture of health, with his heart monitored by the use of Medtronic machine and he takes part in the rehabilitation and exercise programme at Heartbeat.
Phil, who has two step children and four step grandchildren, says: “I have had atrial fibrillation for some time, which makes my heartbeat go a bit haywire. Sometimes it will beat too fast or too slow or it would just stop beating.
“In December 2014 I went to see a friend in Hull. I knocked on his door and then collapsed.
“He tried to do CPR and then he got an off-duty nurse who lived a few doors down. She was there a good half hour pumping on my chest until the paramedics came. She ended up putting her back out.
“The paramedics had to shock me six times to get my heart going in the ambulance and I was taken to Castle Hill Hospital in Hull.
“I was in for four days until I was let out on Christmas Eve.
“The doctors at the hospital didn’t know about my atrial fibrillation and treated me as if I had a heart attack and my arteries had clogged up.
“One of my arteries was 50 per cent closed but it was not bad for my age, so I had a stent put in, but my collapse was down to the atrial fibrillation. I didn’t feel any pain.”
After Phil was released from hospital, he returned to his Fulwood home but he still felt weak.
He adds: “My atrial fibrillation was still making me feel funny so I was kept in for a few days at Royal Preston Hospital. I was there for more than a week.
“It was decided I needed an operation as I had a problem with two parts of my heart. It was beating too fast, but was sorted out with the operation.
“Unfortunately the atrial fibrillation can’t be sorted out but I am taking a drug – Dronedarone – to keep it at bay.
“It is always at the back of my mind, but the drug makes me feel so good. I have never felt better.
“There is the odd time that I feel woozy when my heart skips a beat, but I have an implantable loop recorder which records data on my chest.
“When I come home I have a machine on my bedside cabinet which takes the data from my chest and sends it to the hospital.
“Since I have had that, I have felt okay. I just have to take each day as it comes as I don’t know what is around the corner.
“There are a lot of people younger than me who have had heart attacks. When you have a cardiac arrest on the street you only have a one in 10 chance of survival.
“I was lucky the nurse did CPR on me.”
Red more: How to Restart a Heart: Tips on CPR with The British Heart Foundation
Phil, who works for Royal Mail, attends regular exercise programmes and Heartbeat, in Preston, and is in full support of the annual global Restart a Heart Day, which takes place on Wednesday, October 16.
Heartbeat recently held an awareness event throughout Capitol Centre,in Walton-le-Dale, offering blood pressure testing on-site and collecting donations.
Across the UK, there are more than 30,000 cardiac arrests outside of hospital every year.
Learn what to do if you find someone unconscious and not breathing, by visiting www.bhf.org.uk/how-you-can-help/how-to-save-a-life/restart-a-heart-day.