Westlife star gives wake-up call over heart attacks
WESTLIFE'S Nicky Byrne has revealed how he believes his father might still be alive if he hadn't made the fatal mistake of ignoring a stomach pain.
Despite appearing fit and healthy, Nikki Byrne Snr died of a heart attack when he was 60. And his son believes that, like his father, thousands of Irish men die unnecessarily each year because they ignore the early signs of a heart attack.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Byrne said: "Had he gone to the doctor the night before his death, maybe things might have been different."
The Westlife star -- who has twin sons with Bertie Ahern's daughter Georgina -- told how his father died suddenly in November 2009, weeks short of his 61st birthday.
The night before he died, Nikki Byrne Snr came home with a pain in his lower stomach but decided to soldier through it.
The next day he died of a heart attack at work.
"I genuinely thought that dad would live till he was 95 or 105 or something incredible but it wasn't to be. Maybe that was the eye-opener for us to say, 'look, nobody's invincible', and if you are having those problems all it takes is to call the ambulance," Byrne added.
Byrne will be the voice behind a television campaign, beginning this weekend, by the Irish Heart Foundation to encourage more men to wake up to the early signs of a heart attack.
"Calling 999 is a big thing but the ambulance service and the emergency departments are behind this (campaign). They are going to a lot of calls where people aren't having a heart attack but everybody's happy to respond. They'd rather send people home after not having a heart attack than to not get the call," he added.