Former footballer Fabrice Muamba has launched a campaign to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, months after he was stuck down with the condition.
The former Bolton Wanderers midfielder collapsed on the pitch during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham in March. The televised match came to a standstill when the 24-year-old fell to the ground with no other players around him. It later transpired that his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes.
Muamba, who was forced to retire from playing football, has teamed up with his former club and charity Arrhythmia Alliance to launch the Hearts And Goals campaign.
They aim to raise awareness about the condition but also give communities the life saving equipment to treat people. The campaign will see 500 new defibrillators distributed to communities around the country as well as CPR and defibrillator training.
"I am really pleased to be able to lead this campaign," said Muamba. "I was staggered to find out that 100,000 people a year die from sudden cardiac arrest.
"Anyone suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest who is treated with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and a defibrillator is 10 times more likely to survive than just having CPR alone. We have got a number of key initiatives, such as providing CPR training. I hope that we can create something really good from this campaign."
Arrhythmia Alliance chief executive and founder Trudie Lobban added: "What happened to Fabrice last season put the deadly potential of heart rhythm disorders under a national spotlight.
"Fabrice was extremely fortunate to benefit from immediate medical assistance of the highest calibre, and was still very fortunate to survive, many thousands of other people are not so lucky.
"We are honoured to have formed this partnership and believe that the Hearts and Goals campaign provides an extremely valuable and exciting opportunity to increase the number of public-access defibrillators in the UK and to enhance public understanding of how to use them during resuscitation."
Ian Laithwaite, head of the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, added: "As part of our involvement in the community we will be working with schools and community groups to deliver training in life saving skills which will involve courses in CPR. As well as this positive practical involvement and provision of key skills we will also be seeking to educate and raised awareness around the issues of sudden cardiac arrest."