Christian Eriksen’s collapse in the Euros shocked TV viewers and nine years ago the same thing happened to then Bolton midfielder Patrice Muamba who has given his support to a new heart clinic. Tony McDonough reports
Early on in the European Championships Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during his country’s opening match with Finland after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Million of TV viewers held their breath as medics on the pitch worked to save his life. As Eriksen recovered in hospital, another ex-footballer Fabrice Muamba reached out to the Dane to offer to share his own experience.
In March 2012, Fabrice was playing on midfield for Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in London when he too collapsed on the pitch with cardiac arrest. His heart stopped beating for 76 minutes.
Again his life was saved due to the medics performing CPR and having access to a defibrillator. Fabric re-told his story as he visited Venturi Cardiology in Warrington, the North West’s first independent healthy heart clinic which opened this month.
He was joined by former Hollyoaks actress and now Hits Radio presenter Gemma Atkinson. Both underwent heart checks with consultant preventative cardiologist Dr Scott Murray, one of the founders of Venturi.
Fabrice said: “It is important to have medical checks when you need them and Venturi Cardiology’s clinic gives people the chance to come in and get all the checks they need in one go.”
As well as providing routine diagnostic cardiology services, Venturi’s primary objective is to treat the cause of heart disease, currently the UK’s biggest killer. Every 25 minutes someone in the North West dies from heart or circulatory disease, with healthcare costs relating to these diseases estimated at £9bn each year.
Dr Murray, who was inspired to become a cardiologist after his grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack, said: “Every year, more than 100,000 people in the UK die of sudden cardiac arrest, and yet so much of our heart health is driven by what we eat, how we move and through lifestyle choices – factors that are all within our control.
“I see people every day who, if they had received a heart scan five years before, could have been treated or potentially may have been given that push to really change their lifestyle and turn their life around. Our goal is to speed up treatment for patients, save lives and help to offload some of the pressures on the NHS.”
Gemma Atkinson was only 17 when her father, David, died of a heart attack at the age of 52. Gemma, who is engaged to Strictly Come Dancing professional Gorka Marquez with whom she has a daughter, Mia, would like to see routine heart tests made as standard as mammograms are.
She said: “When he was only 52, my dad, David, had two heart attacks. The first happened when he was at work – his colleagues found him hunched over his desk unable to move or breathe – and he was taken to hospital.
“The second one came three days later and was bigger, in his sleep, while he was still in hospital and that killed him. Doctors said that they thought the cause was stress related. At the time, he was very fit and healthy, didn’t smoke and only drank occasionally.
“He managed a company and was working a lot and travelling all over the world. He’d had a few chest pains leading up to the first heart attack which he thought was simply indigestion and so he took some heartburn tables and carried on.
“Looking back now, and thanks to what I know now following my work with the British Heart Foundation, these were classic symptoms and warning signs that something was wrong with his heart. If he had gone to the doctors perhaps he could have been investigated and they could have helped him in time.
“But we all know that some men don’t like going to the doctors. Since I lost my dad, I’ve taken care to make my lifestyle as good as possible. I try to live as healthily as I can with my food choices and the exercise I do as I’m fully aware that if my dad could have a heart attack then anyone could.”