Ivor was just completing a marathon two hour swim when his wife spotted him lying face down and not moving. As soon as she saw he’d stopped moving, she raised the alarm.
The lifeguards dragged him out of the pool and immediately started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR or commonly known as mouth-to-mouth) at the side of the pool. Luckily there was an emergency ambulance close by which was able to re-start Ivor’s heart using an automated external defibrillator (AED, ‘defib’ or a start-the-heart machine).
Ivor says: “My wife Ann has told me that she will never forget the efforts of those who saved my life, we both hold the greatest respect and admiration for all concerned.”
Ivor never considered himself at risk of heart problems. Indeed Ivor remembers that all who knew him said he was “Mr FIT”.
Ivor underwent a triple bypass to ensure his heart muscle was receiving enough blood. An ECG and a chest X-ray confirmed the operation was a success and he was signed off by the cardiologist.
After the operation Ivor also underwent a six week course with the Cardio Rehab group. He recalls how important it was for him to get in shape: “Getting fit as soon as possible was a priority for me and Ann. The cardiologist had assured me that I could swim and that I should be able to recommence training. His response to “Lead a normal life” was great so we left to get on with our lives.”
Amazingly in late 2009, just under two years after his first attack Ivor collapsed again, in the same swimming pool. Lifeguards were again on hand to save his life until the ambulance could arrive and return him to hospital.
How an implant helped Ivor
Evenutally it was confirmed that Ivor suffered from life-threatening irregularities in the electrical impulses which cause the heart to beat. Known as an arrhythmia it was causing his heart to beat erratically at times or even stop altogether causing a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). To avoid the problem happening again it was decided to fit Ivor with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
An ICD is a tiny computer, plus a battery, which is implanted under the skin and connected to the heart using tiny insulated wires. These wires allow the ICD to continually monitor the electrical activity of Ivor’s heart and whenever necessary deliver electrical impulses (shocks) to the heart, to re-start it or prevent it stopping completely.
According to Ivor the surgery “All happened at the speed of light – or so it seemed. I was into hospital and out again in just ten days, meaning I was home in time for Christmas.
Once Ivor had been implanted with an ICD, his cardio technician used an external programmer to ensure the device was working properly and to monitor Ivor’s own heart function.
Since the ICD was implanted Ivor hasn’t needed any shocks to keep his heart beating properly, but the peace of mind is vital. Ivor says: “I have made a complete recovery, twice. Daily my ICD reassures me that anywhere, any time it can save my life.”
The future for Ivor
Ivor, now a sprightly 75 year old, is grateful to the experts and technology that means he is still here today.
Ivor believes more information and training is needed to help those who aren’t as fortunate as him. He comments: “Internet research reveals that the biggest killer in the UK is heart problems. I am convinced that many heart related deaths may be prevented, perhaps if more public places had AEDs and more of the general public were CPR trained this would help.”
“I know I was just very lucky. In my case two cardiac arrests two years apart coincided with timely intervention; the right equipment and well trained and rehearsed professionals.
“I know that my experiences are unique to me and that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all who worked so hard and long with me and my family. If I fail to tell them individually then this must not be taken as caring less.
Ivor concludes: “Revisiting the watery wonderland of the Link Centre swimming pool is so magical. I know that my ICD will always be my welcome companion on my journey.”
This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving ICD therapy. Medtronic, Inc. invited this person to share his story candidly. As you read it, please bear in mind that these experiences are specific to this particular patient. Results vary; not every response is the same.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.