A fitness fanatic whose heart stopped in the back of an ambulance has returned to say thank you to the paramedics who saved his life.
Anthony Foster, 52, had to be shocked back to life after going into cardiac arrest out of the blue in April.
The father-of-two from Penwortham had been enjoying a night out when he became ill, and was about to go home for “a glass of water and a Rennies” until his best friend insisted on calling 999.
He said: “I’ve been very lucky, I was in the right place at the right time, with the right people.
“If my friend hadn’t have called for an ambulance, I probably would have gone home, put the football on TV and I wouldn’t be here now.”
Antony, a commercial sales director in the fitness industry, said having a heart attack “was the last thing on my mind”, having spent his life running 10ks, competing in Tough Mudder events, lifting weights and swimming.
He had even been on a four-mile run just hours before falling ill.
He said: “I felt a bit sluggish on my way round the park that day, but had no pain and thought nothing of it.
“Then that evening I walked from my friends house in Cop Lane to The Fleece in Liverpool Road to watch Manchester United versus Chelsea.
“During the walk I started feeling a bit uncomfortable with a pain right in my middle, but it wore off when I was at the pub.
“The game was a bit boring, so we made our way to the Tap and Vine, literally about two minutes up the road, and then the pain started to come back.
“I was stood at the bar and the pain was getting worse. I went to the toilet and I looked as white as a ghost, which isn’t like me at all.
“I felt awful and took myself outside to sit down. People were trying to talk to me, but I was bent over and didn’t want to know.
“I thought something might be wrong, but I didn’t think something so drastic was happening.
“I thought it might be indigestion and I was going to go home and have a glass of water and some Rennies, but my friend Mick was concerned as the pain in my arm was getting worse.”
Anthony’s friend Mick Slater called 111 but couldn’t get through, so put Anthony in his car, took him back to his house, and called 999 for an ambulance.
Within 10 minutes, paramedics Andy Utting and Lisa Carne-Ross arrived.
Andy, 26, said: “He was leaning forward, pale, clammy, but was very calm and answered our questions in detail.”
Lisa said: “We ran an ECG on him and the trace showed he was having a heart attack. It was a developing situation, but we didn’t know he was about to arrest. We’re not usually there when that happens.”
Just minutes after being put into the ambulance for tests and being given pain relief, Anthony’s heart suddenly stopped and he fell unconscious.
Parked in the road, Andy and Lisa tried to revive him using CPR, but he didn’t respond after two minutes.
Lisa, 34, said: “He was attached to a monitor which showed his heart was in a shockable rhythm, so we shocked him and he came straight back round.”
Anthony was then blue-lighted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital - a specialist cardiac centre - where he was taken straight to theatre to have two stents fitted into an artery.
He spent three days in hospital before returning in July to have two more inserted.
Anthony said: “By Monday morning I felt brand new. I woke up at 5am and felt like going for a run!”
His illness was caused by a hereditary condition that makes him predisposed to blocked arteries - the same condition which killed his grandfather at 52 and his uncle at 46.
He added: “I probably feel so good now because I’ve wound the clock back 10 or 15 years. My arteries were slowly furring up and you don’t know, you just think that you’re getting older and you’re not as fit as you were at 30.”
After rehabilitation with charity Heartbeat, Anthony has returned to work and has taken up running again - his first run on holiday in Portugal a week-and-a-half ago.
He said: “It is on the back of your mind, you find yourself constantly checking your heart rate, but I thought ‘if I’m going to croak it, then I may as well do it in the sunshine’.”
He made contact with Andy and Lisa through his brother-in-law, who also works as a paramedic. The first time they met again in person was on Thursday morning.
He said: “I’ve wanted to do this from the get-go. I think it’s amazing what they’ve done and I’m so lucky.”
Lisa said: “In my 10-year career, this is the first time someone has come back and said thank you.
“We see people for a very short and intense time and we don’t get to know the outcome. Very often people don’t really remember our names or anything like that, so it’s very unusual to see someone again.”
She added: “You expect an ambulance to take you to A&E, but not to a procedure like in Anthony’s case. But we can do that, within an hour in this case, and it’s amazing.”
Andy said: “It’s really interesting to hear Anthony’s side of the story and how much he remembers about the event.
“We’re so pleased to hear he’s doing well and we did what we needed to do.”
Symptoms of a heart attack and what to do:
According to the NHS, symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain – the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
- pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- shortness of breath
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
- coughing or wheezing
Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, the elderly and people with diabetes. It’s the overall pattern of symptoms that helps to determine whether you are having a heart attack.
If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. Don’t worry if you have doubts. Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.
While waiting for an ambulance, it may help to chew and then swallow a tablet of aspirin (ideally 300mg), as long as the person having a heart attack is not allergic to aspirin. The aspirin helps to thin the blood and restore the heart’s blood supply.