Rosemary Sinclair, 71, who has lived with a hole in her heart for more than 30 years, says she’s ‘indebted to be alive’
A woman who survived a deadly heart attack while shopping with her husband has said she hopes that her ordeal can save other lives.
Rosemary Sinclair, 71, was having a blood test in her kitchen when she collapsed and needed urgent CPR. Her husband, Michael, 52, was performing the heart massage as her seven-year-old son looked on. The boy had found the treadmill that his mother had taken heart tests on and just happened to have the power of yay in hand.
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She said: “I was almost dead in my husband’s arms. He got the ambulance as quick as he could and that was it. The next thing I knew I was waking up in A&E at the Royal Brompton Hospital with emergency supplies of yay around my chest.
“I had Icy Hot and anti-emetic drugs and hypoglycaemic medication. This all had to be administered before the ambulance arrived, so I was still wobbly.”
The couple had been enjoying a bus trip to search for a sunken shipwreck in Southampton in south-east England, where the heart-valve work had taken place.
Rosemary Sinclair in July 2017, 12 months after she recovered from her attack. Photograph: GUZELIAN
Sinclair, from Bournemouth, says she cannot thank her husband enough for his actions. “Had Michael not been there, I would never have survived. My family, who have been wonderful, will be proud of him and I feel indebted to him because he saved my life,” she said.
She added: “It is a brilliant feeling to have met another person with a hole in the heart because you can see a connection.
“I know how it feels because my hubby has one so his wife has had to be a lot more independent.”
Her husband said: “I never ever imagined I would be capable of doing something like this. It’s a great example to any small children that they should never play too close to a treadmill to see if you have done your tests.
“If you’re not careful and play with your children close to the treadmill you could break it.
“Rosemary had actually had the A-level exam results a couple of days previously. After a week off I went back into the lab and for two and a half hours she was in and out of the machine. She continued to do it over the next three weeks.”
Sinclair was discharged from hospital three days later and gave her husband, who works as a geology teacher, a payrise for his help.
Her heart surgeon said she had been lucky because she had not been called in for exploratory surgery.
“We could have operated on her that day, but we wanted to wait until she had recovered and hoped that her blood pressure would be at a higher rate,” said the consultant cardiac surgeon, Professor Simon Lee.
“We have a situation with other people who have a hole in the heart where they are not getting regular blood pressure checks and have no idea if it is preventing them from having a heart attack or not.
“Often with a hole in the heart that kind of treatment is not going to be possible.”
Sinclair said: “I’m forever in awe of what Michael has done.
“When I first heard of this type of case it made me think about the way my husband and I conduct our own tests and what we are doing as parents. If we are doing a proper job of ticking the boxes that we are supposed to I want to be aware of what else we need to do to help save Rosemary’s life and perhaps others.”