Wednesday 13 December 2017

Irish heart attack man survives by driving himself to hospital and cheating death by '30 seconds'

Peter Wynne with Anton Savage. Photo: TodayFM
Peter Wynne with Anton Savage. Photo: TodayFM

Sasha Brady

An Irish man who drove himself to hospital while he was having a heart attack, cheated death by "30 seconds" according to doctors.

Peter Wynne had been enjoying a day off from work before he collapsed at home in the early afternoon of November, 24 2015.

"I don't know if I was down for five or 20 minutes," he told the Anton Savage Show on TodayFM.

When he came to, he recognised that he was having a heart attack but instead of calling an ambulance the father-of-three took a huge risk and drove himself to hospital instead.

"I jumped up, grabbed my car keys from where I always leave them in the hall and drove myself to Beaumont Hospital."

The 46-year-old said he didn't feel any pain, just a sense of "impending doom".

"I don't remember much. I vaguely remember the drive to the hospital. I just felt this impending sense of doom, that's the only way to describe it.

"I just live ten minutes from Beaumont Hospital. I drove straight to the car park, got a ticket and parked the car."

The Dublin man said he couldn't access the A&E entrance due to renovations that were taking place that day so he walked to the main entrance, struggling to see straight.

"I knew there were people around me but I couldn't see anything properly," he said.

Peter was able to make out the high-vis jacket of security guard Lisa Kelly. He reached out for her and said, "I need help, get me to A&E."

Lisa got him into a wheelchair and then realised that he was having a heart attack. She called for two nurses and they pulled him to the ground and administered CPR on him in the main reception area of the hospital.

"She'd turned around to see me say that one sentence and then I passed out. Lisa had started CPR and then two nurses joined her and defibrillated me twice, from there I was taken to A&E," he said.

Peter had gone into ventricular fibrillation (the heart beats so fast that it's vibrating rather than contracting properly), due to a blocked artery.

He was technically without a heartbeat for four minutes and doctors estimate that he was about 30 seconds away from death.

"I'm very lucky, so much could have gone wrong. I could have taken the wrong turn to the hospital, missed the lift..."

Five months later, Peter is fully recovered but is still taking steps to improve his health.

In early January, he was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibillator (ICD) under his collarbone.

"It's about half the size of a cigarette packet," he explained.

"It's there for life. It constantly monitors my heart. If I go into cardiac arrest again, this will put my heartbeat back where it should be. It monitors the rhythms on a continuous basis. I have a home monitor beside my bed that downloads the information from my ICD and sends it to the hospital.

"The prognosis is good. They've taken the risk away but it's down to me to change," he said.

As well as doing cardio rehab every day, Peter is taking up exercise and cutting back on unhealthy habits as he believes that his illness was a combination of stress, bad diet and lifestyle.

He has cut back on his 30-40 cigarettes a day habit, saying it was the "easiest decision" of his life.

Peter, who is father to Ciara (23), Conor (21) and Hannah (17), is urging everyone to learn CPR because that's what saved his life. Ironically, his wife Sandra had begun a CPR course just a few days before his cardiac arrest.

As part of the Happy Heart Weekend on May 5 and 6, Peter will be volunteering and raising funds for the Irish Heart Foundation.

The charity is looking for volunteers to give up an hour or two to sell Happy Hearts and help save lives all over Ireland.

If you'd like to help, email or call Anne on 01 6346945.

And to donate to the Irish Heart Foundation: Text HAPPY to 50300 to give €4..

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