Danny's Heart Story
Today’s heart story is from 63-year-old Danny, a member at PureGym Debdale. Danny had always maintained a good level of fitness, but one day during a gym session, he suffered a cardiac arrest due to his underlying condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Danny was revived 3 times by the assistant gym manager, who used CPR and the onsite defibrillator to save his life before the paramedics arrived. Here is Danny’s story.
About 7 years ago, I started to feel lethargic and was unable to recover from my gym sessions. Initially, I thought it was due to old age and didn’t think much of it, but I decided to visit my GP, nevertheless. I was referred to a specialist for further tests and from there, I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition which is an enlargement of the heart wall, and I was prescribed various medication to prevent anything worsening, such as a heart attack or a stroke.
I have always been an active person and before the incident, I felt I had a good level of fitness for somebody of my age, attending the gym 5-6 times a week. On the morning of the cardiac arrest, I felt fine, so I headed to the gym and began my warmup. I’d only been in the gym about 5-10 minutes and was doing some mobility work when I lost all control and felt myself falling backwards. I don’t remember anything after that, until I was being carried out of the gym on a stretcher.
When I collapsed, the assistant gym manager acted quickly, performing CPR, and using the defibrillator that was in the gym. My heart stopped three times, and he brought me round every time, which I’m so grateful for.
The paramedics and air ambulance arrived quickly, and both were on the scene within 10 minutes. When I woke up on the stretcher, I looked down to see that I was still receiving chest compressions from a contraption that the paramedics had fitted around my chest. It’s hard to describe it as I had no idea what was going on and I was confused, but I could tell that it was obviously serious.
I arrived at the hospital with a foil blanket wrapped round me, but after that I don’t remember much until the next day, when the doctors confirmed I had suffered a cardiac arrest caused by my underlying condition.
Whilst I was in hospital, I was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that monitors my heart and sends regular downloads to the heart specialist at the hospital via a bedside monitor. The ICD works like an internal defibrillator, transmitting shocks if my pulse exceeds 180bpm. Luckily, the ICD hasn’t been set off since my cardiac arrest, and although I know it’s there, it’s doing an important job and it doesn’t impact me in my day-to-day life.
My recovery plan was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but once it began, I started to notice improvements in my health and fitness. After my initial rehab, I was referred to a wellness centre for supervised exercise and I had many appointments with a mental health nurse which really helped me. The specialist PT I was seeing gave me a training program to follow so I could return to PureGym Debdale and slowly reintroduce weight training.
The incident still plays on my mind and having the ICD fitted is a constant reminder of what’s happened, but it’s helped me to make my body and heart health a huge priority. Although I must be mindful not to push myself like I used to, I’ve managed to adapt to build my fitness and energy levels that allow me to get in the gym at least 5 times per week – which I love and am so fortunate to do!
I have a huge debt of gratitude to the PureGym staff and the paramedics who were on duty the day that I suffered the cardiac arrest, they saved my life.
Inspired by Danny’s story? When unexpected things happen, it’s vital to know what to do – and it could save a life.
All our gyms have a defibrillator to assist in an emergency and all gym staff are CPR trained. You can see full details of all of our gym safety protocols on our TrainSafe page here, and you can find out how to use a defibrillator on the BHF website here.
We are proud to be the official gym partner for the British Heart Foundation. We're working together to help inspire a healthier nation, one heartbeat at a time. With the help of our partners (and heart experts!) the British Heart Foundation, we want to get more people thinking about their heart health.
Find out more about our partnership with the British Heart Foundation here, or learn more about how to look after your heart health here.