Dad who collapsed at the gym later told his heart stopped three times
It was a normal workout at the gym for Danny Albanese. But, not long after arriving, he found himself waking up surrounded by strangers and being carried out on a stretcher.
Danny, 63, had been doing a mobility workout at his local PureGym when he collapsed. He later learned his heart had stopped three times and if it hadn't had been for one quick-thinking member of staff, he probably wouldn't have made it, reports the M.E.N.
Danny, who is retired, said: “I have always been an active person before the incident. I felt I had a good level of fitness for somebody of my age and attended the gym five to six times a week.
“I’d only been in the gym for about five to ten minutes and was doing some mobility work when I lost all control. I felt myself falling backwards. I don’t remember anything after that.
“When I collapsed, the assistant gym manager acted quickly. He performed CPR and used 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. They saved my life.”
Danny spent the night in hospital and was told by doctors that an underlying condition had caused the cardiac arrest. In 2016 he had been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease which sees the heart muscle becomes thickened. The condition can cause heart attacks and strokes.
The collapse, which happened in December 2019, led Danny to be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, known as an ICD, which monitors his heart by sending regular downloads to a heart specialist. Luckily, the device hasn’t been set off since his heart attack and Danny, from Gorton, Greater Manchester, has been able to return to 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,” he said. “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 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 five 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."
Rebecca Passmore, UK managing director at PureGym, said: “Danny’s story is a powerful reminder that having access to a defibrillator can help save lives. Although there is currently no national requirement for gyms to have defibrillators on site, we recognized the importance of installing them across our gyms, which will help to improve the safety of our members.
“As the first official gym partner of the British Heart Foundation we also recognise the essential role that exercise plays in maintaining a healthy heart. We are excited to continue our work with the British Heart Foundation to help not only our members, but the nation as a whole, to be better equipped to prevent, treat and manage their heart conditions.”
Adam Fletcher, head of community health programmes at the British Heart Foundation, added: “We’re thrilled that PureGym has hundreds of defibrillators available across its gym network. When someone has a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival are reduced by 10 per cent for every minute that goes by without CPR or defibrillation.
"However, early CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival in some cases. We’re pleased that this Heart Month PureGym is joining us in the fight to improve survival rates and is leading the way for their industry, recognising that defibrillators are as essential as any other piece of equipment in the gym.”