Thursday, 26 April 2012

My very Own Lazarus

Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest

My DH has always been at great pains to tell anyone who thinks, or says, he has had a Heart Attack that he has NOT!! I don't know whether that's because he feels that makes him more 71 years old, than 41 years old, or just because he's one of those chaps who like to be accurate.

So today's Post is both for him to set the record straight, and also for those people who have asked me about that night and the 999 call I made and what it was like.

Firstly, a heart attack is, broadly speaking, when the blood supplying the heart muscle is interrupted causing part of the muscle tissue to die. It is usually a very tiny part that dies, but the dead cells release a specific chemical which is traceable & proves a heart attack took place.

The most common cause of heart attacks is blood clots stuck in furred up arteries, hence the NHS obsession with healthy living. Cholesterol is just one factor, the acceptable level (for total cholesterol) is 5. Anything over 5.5 would have the doctors treating you,over 6 and they'd be concerned. My DH's is 2.4, if you can find anybody with a lower score, let me know !

Sometimes people will have such a mild heart attack that they don't notice.
Sometimes all they feel is a little dizzy, nauseua etc.
Sometimes they will have pain.
Very rarely and only in extreme cases the heart attack will cause a cardiac arrest (see below for info on cardiac arrest) This is what has usually happened when you hear that "so and so died of a massive heart attack". They didnt, cause of death was cardiac arrest, heart attack just triggered it.

Anyway, that's enough about heart attacks, because guess what......


He had a "sudden cardiac arrest".
Yup that's right, his heart just stopped beating, for no apparent reason. In his case (ventricular fibrilation) it just started vibrating or wobbling like a jelly.

Most cardiac arrests are VF or VT which are shockable, the other types are less common but can be fixed by administering drugs, unfortunately this is not usually available.
Contrary to popular belief amongst family and friends, I did not "save" his life, the Ambulance crew who shocked his heart did.

A few statistics for those who like that kind of thing:-

Number of “Sudden Cardiac Arrests” per year in the UK =105,000
Number of deaths from SCA per year in the UK = 100,000

Number of deaths from breast cancer per year in the UK = 12,500

Survival rate for a cardiac arrest = 5%
Of the 5% who survive, only 5% of them make a full recovery (1:400)
(Not verified)
Most of the 5% who survive are people who have a cardiac arrest in a hospital setting, where there are trained staff immediately on hand.
Chance of survival following a cardiac arrest reduces by 10% with each minute that passes.

Unsurprisingly, my DH's particular soapbox is that everyone should learn CPR. The following is an audio recording of my actual 999 call and will hopefully encourage everyone to learn CPR. Hopefully you will then stay a lot more calm than I did. I was pathetic!!

HEALTH WARNING: I am told that this recording is very traumatic to listen to, so if you are someone who is likely to be overly upset by it, please look away now.

I was told afterwards that what appears to be my DH breathing, could not have been proper breathing as when the ambulance crew hooked him up to the AED (defibrillator) on arrival, at our house, his heart was still in VF.

However, he is proof that there is life after Clinical Death. My very own Lazarus!!

This is something my DH wrote not long after the event and I share it with you because he is also proof that you should Live Life to the Max, because you never know which day will be your last.

"I have a congenital heart defect....

but I didn't know that, when I was a member of the British Hang Gliding Association
Or when I was windsurfing across Lake Bala in Wales
I didn't know that I could drop down dead at any moment when I was working as a life guard.
Or when I was skiing down Mnt Blanc
Or when I was abseiling down the Civic Centre in Walsall
I didn't know that, when I was flying solo across Texas in a light aircraft.
Or when I taking my boat across the English Channel
Would I have gone on a canoeing trip down the River Wye,
or swam to victory in the 100mtrs Butterfly
or water skii'd across Plymouth Sound if I had known I had a life threatening condition looming in the back ground ?

What is the point of living? To merely exist for as long as possible? or to really live your life and experience as many things as possible? The answer probably lies somewhere in-between the two, different people will tend towards one end of the scale or the other, most will probably be content somewhere in the middle. But my advice would be to get on with it, don't sit around thinking maybe I'll have a go at that next year.
I watch far too much television and try to justify it in my own mind by thinking it is inspirational or motivational or educational. Some of it is, and sometimes we need that kind of inspiration to get us going, but very often it is an excuse to laze about. From now on I plan to live every moment as if it's my last and see how much I can fit in before it truly is. I suggest you do the same."

If you have any questions I am happy to answer them.

My wonderful, Darling Hubby, I love you.

Lots of Love Arwedd xx


  1. Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal moment with us. You were there to help and help you did - you were fantastic. Thank you to DH for sharing his thoughts - having heart disease myself I agree with him about living life to the full. Love to you both. Enjoy your living.
    Love from Mum

    1. Sorry to hear about your heart, keep looking after it. Thank You.

      Arwedd xx

  2. Such a great post. I could almost hear your hubby correcting people. (not that I know who your husband is, I just have a strange imagination obviously)

    We should all "just do it" and enjoy life.

    x x

  3. Well done for sharing such a meaningful post. My dad died at 52 of a heart attack when I was 21 and it was very traumatic. When Mr Thrifty's dad died a couple of years ago of pulmonary heart disease we donated the cost of a defibulator to the boys' school because there had been several children die if heart attacks whilst at school and the school wanted to train pupils in CPR - a post and subject close to my heart xxx

    1. Sorry to hear about your Dad, 52 is such a young age. I'm sure it was more traumatic that I can imagine, but what a wonderful thing to buy a debrillator for the school. I bet they were very chuffed.

      Arwedd xx

  4. You amazing wonderful woman!
    I wept all the way through.
    I would like for our church to hold a CPR course for the congregation and local villagers. May I use your emergency call to send to my vicar to spur him to action?
    I fully understand if you are not comfortable with it.
    Jane xx

    1. You are welcome to pass it on to whoever you want to Jane.

      DH & I are hoping to pay for a course for some of our Church folk who said they would like to do a course.

      Arwedd xx

    2. Thank you so vey much..this could save a life.
      Jane xxxx

  5. Thanks for sharing this very personal story. I couldn't listen to your call as I don't want to hear your voice in what is probably a very distressed state. I don't want to think of you like that. I am sure you did an awesome job. Has DH really done all those things?
    Your NHS is very tolerant with the cholesterol levels, here they recommend less than 4 total or LDL less than 2.
    Sandra x

    1. Yes, he's one of those annoying people that is just good at everything. I think I was most impressed when I met him that he had been to Texas to get his Pilot's licence. Not that I like flying on planes, but it's such a cool thing to be able to do. He rarely sits still!

      Arwedd xx

  6. Despite what you say, you really did save David's life. We knock the NHS and services but the 999 operator was wonderful.
    Wishing you both a long and happy life.

    1. Hannah was indeed truly amazing. Her job title is "Call Taker", but that is a woefully inadequate title as she did so much more than just that. They don't always get the same thanks or praise as the Paramedics, but I coudn't have done any of it without her.

      Arwedd xx

  7. I cried all through that. I think you were amazing and I'm pretty much lost for words. Love to you both,

    Emma xxx

    1. Sorry didn't mean to make you cry!

      Love Arwedd xx

  8. Oh my goodness, I have tears streaming down my face after listening to that. Whatever I say to you here is totally inadequate. How traumatic, a totally life changing incident for both of you. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us, let's hope that more people are trained in CPR and that more lives can be saved.

    1. Definitely more people need to learn how to do it. I don't think unless you have practised on the dummy you really know how hard you to have to press.

      Pass it on.

      Arwedd xx

      P.s. sorry to make you cry too!

  9. I've just listened to that recording and cried the whole way through it. You were AMAZING and the 999 operator was so very good at keeping you focused and helping you. I didn't realise how fast you had to pump and I've done first aid courses so thank you for teaching me that. I hope I'm never tested in real life but if I am I hope I am as good as you were. Thank you for sharing
    Love Helen x

  10. Thank you SO much for sharing this recording.
    If it makes the difference to just ONE person, and ONE person has the courage and strength to help like you did - then telling this story will become the beacon that gets you through this dark tunnel of recovery yourself.
    You are AMAZING.
    God gave you the strength to do this, He is beside you every single day.