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Heart attack case study: 'If it wasn't for my quick-thinking wife I wouldn't be here'

By Lesley Houston

Kilkeel man William Newell is one heart attack survivor who knows only too well how the life-changing event can creep up on a seemingly healthy person "in a heartbeat".

And the 48-year-old was lucky his wife Amanda acted on her suspicions that the discomfort her husband experienced after a bike ride last year was something much more sinister.

William explained: "Up until October last year I was a relatively active man. I travelled quite a bit with work, covering 91,000 air miles in 2015 alone.

"When I was away I would have used the gym facilities, so I was by no means inactive."

It was after he returned from a bicycle ride last October that an unknown and underlying heart condition surfaced. "After returning from a cycle ride that day I started to feel uncomfortable. I felt very warm and short of breath. I imagined the symptoms of a heart attack were severe pain. I only felt like someone was leaning on my chest and a slight numbness down my left arm.

"Luckily for me my wife Amanda, who is a care worker, suspected what it was and dialled 999. I myself would probably have lay there and hoped it would have gone away," he admitted.

"When the paramedic arrived after about 20 minutes I was feeling really uncomfortable but still in no real pain."

A trip to hospital resulted in him breaking a record he never imagined.

"He confirmed it was a heart attack and I was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital. On arrival I was taken straight to theatre where I had seven stents put in my heart which I hear is a record. One artery was blocked and two were badly closed over. On the operating table I flatlined and had to be shocked."

Luckily William was soon released from hospital. "After a week in hospital and getting looked after very well I was sent home to recover. My life has changed in a heartbeat, so to speak," he said. "My father, who was a smoker, died from heart disease aged 55 and to be honest I knew the dangers but thought 'it won't happen to me' and prior to taking ill I never felt any chest pain or breathlessness." William is now advising people to pay attention to their bodies. "My only advice is if it runs in your family, get yourself checked. I was lucky I had a very resourceful wife who gave me a second chance."

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