Sean McLaughlin Speaks Out About Need To Recognise Heart Attack Symptoms

An amateur boxer who almost died of a heart attack in the ring in a charity fundraising boxing match for the Coney Island junior football teams eight months ago, is telling his story in an effort to shock people out of complacency about the warning signs of heart attack following a second recent turn of illness.

According to a snap poll by a leading health charity, six out of 10 people wouldn’t drive to hospital or call an ambulance if they had chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack.

Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is warning that fast action is crucial and has launched its STOP campaign in an effort to save lives.

STOP is an acronym for: S – Something’s not right – symptoms can start slowly T – Tightness or pain in the chest, pain in the arm, neck or jaw O – Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or sweating P – Phone 999 immediately – the ambulance crew will do an ECG.

[caption id="attachment_52763" align="alignright" width="390"]Sean McLaughlin, left, who suffered a heart attack at the end of the second round, with opponent Simon Fletcher during a charity fundraiser for the Coney Island youth football teams. Pictured moments before his charity boxing bout for the Coney Island youth football teams, Sean McLaughlin, left, who suffered a heart attack at the end of the second round, with opponent Simon Fletcher.[/caption]

Sean McLaughlin (45) from Killough almost died of a heart attack in November 2014, while taking part in a fundraising boxing event in Ardglass. The father-of-three started to feel unwell at the end of the second round.

Suddenly he collapsed in the ring while making his way back to his corner.  First-aiders from the Order of Malta rushed to help him. And an off-duty cardiac rehabilitation nurse Roisin Dorian from the Downe Hospital had just arrived at the event and quickly  assisted. She realised what was happening and rushed to help. Her actions probably saved Sean’s life. She used the defribriliator that the Order of Malta had and it proved to be a life saver.

Sean had always kept himself fit but doctors told him that a combination of family history of heart disease and the pressure of work at the engineering firm he part-owns were probably to blame.

Six months and one triple bypass later, Sean again found himself feeling unwell. “I started to feel like something was not quite right. I had a tightness in my chest, but I at first I just thought the pain was from my triple bypass healing. I’d been warned that it could take up to a year to fully heal.

“But given what happened to me last November, I decided to go to my GP the next morning. In my mind I was just going to get my blood pressure taken, but maybe deep down I knew different. I am glad I went!

“My GP immediately sent me to the Downe Hospital and within hours I was being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where I had four stents put in. The doctors have told me that if had I continued to ignore the pain, I would have had another heart attack.

“My message to anyone who is feeling these symptoms is not to ignore them. The first time I was lucky that a cardiac nurse was in the audience. This second time I was lucky I listened to my gut feeling.”

Fidelma Carter, Director of Public Health at NI Chest Heart & Stroke, said: “Thankfully Sean’s story has a happy ending but that is not the case for everyone. There’s no time to waste when chest pain strikes. Every minute that passes can mean the difference between life and death. We’re advising people to call 999 rather than driving the patient to hospital, because the ambulance crew can provide treatment at the scene.”

Information on the symptoms of heart attack can be found on the NICHS web site:

The charity’s snap survey which showed that most people were not fully aware of the symptoms of a heart attack was carried out at the recent Balmoral Show earlier this year. The STOP campaign will run from July until September.