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Cardiovascular Health Q3 2022

How a defibrillator saved my life

iStock / Getty Images Plus / kckate16

Trudie Lobban MBE

Founder & Trustee, Arrhythmia Alliance and Founder & CEO, AF Association

Three-time Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher OBE calls for defibrillators to become as common as smoke alarms after one saved him when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Renowned professional golfer and sudden cardiac arrest survivor Bernard explains “You can be fit, you can go to the gym, you can run, you can play golf, you can play sports, and yet you can still have a sudden cardiac arrest, without warning.”

A recent survey undertaken by Arrhythmia Alliance found that:

  • More than a third of people do not know if their sports club has an AED.
  • One in five people don’t know how to perform CPR.
  • One in three people don’t know where their nearest AED is located.
  • Although most of those who responded know what an AED is, more than 50% said they don’t know how to use one.

Not everybody can be saved, but everybody deserves the chance to be saved.

Lesley Gallacher

Inspiration to give others the same chance

To increase awareness and understanding, Bernard has shared his story together with his wife Lesley, explaining what happened to him and how he is lucky to have survived when 100,000 people in the UK die each year because of sudden cardiac arrest.

In 2013, the three-time Ryder Cup captain collapsed, suffering a sudden cardiac arrest as he was about to give an after-dinner speech. If it wasn’t for the quick actions of a member of the audience and the prompt use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), he would not be here today to tell his story.

Bernard and Lesley explain what happened on that terrible day, highlighting the importance of having an AED nearby and the peace of mind that his implantable cardiac device (ICD) has provided.

Availability of AED devices

Talking about what happened, the quick actions of others, and the life-saving equipment available, “You know he had everything, he had the best chance ever,” reports Lesley, “not everybody can be saved, but everybody deserves the chance to be saved.”

Bernard wanted to make others aware and help save lives, so he became an ambassador with Arrhythmia Alliance to campaign for the importance of easy access to defibrillators in the community, golf clubs, and other sporting facilities. He believes AEDs should be as common as smoke alarms. They should be available to all, and so many more lives would be saved each year.

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