Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

George Best’s brother kickstarts drive for defibrillators

The younger brother of football legend George Best has begun campaigning to make defibrillators more widely available after suffering his third heart attack at the age of just 44.

Ian Best’s life was saved by the device — which was invented in Belfast.

Ian, who was born in Belfast but now lives in Torquay, revealed in an interview that he was close to death after suffering a cardiac arrest on holiday in Blackpool last month.

Ian was with his wife Tracy in a Blackpool hotel when he suddenly went blue, collapsed unconscious and stopped breathing.

“I felt fine,” he said. “Then we went down to have a drink before dinner. Being George’s brother, people expect me to be a big drinker.

“When I was younger people used to say: ‘You don’t play football like your brother’. And I’d say: ‘No and I don’t drink like him either’.

“Before I knew it, I’d blacked out. The next thing I remember is people standing around me in Blackpool Hospital.” Fortunately the hotel had installed a defibrillator just weeks before and an employee had attended a first aid refresher course that day.

Within 90 seconds of his cardiac arrest the staff member had kickstarted Ian’s heart with an electric shock from the defibrillator.

The ambulance took four minutes to arrive by which time, if he had been left unattended, it could have been too late.

Doctors are unsure what caused Ian’s heart to stop but the most common cause is an initial heart attack.

The father-of-five is now campaigning to raise awareness of how to use defibrillators, as well as ensure they are widely available in public places.

“I’d like to see more defibrillators around and people able and happy to use them,” he said.

factfile

Invented in Northern Ireland, a defibrillator is a life-saving machine that gives the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac arrest.

This is called ‘defibrillation'. A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body.

Research shows that applying a controlled shock within five minutes provides the best chance of survival.

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