Aussie nurse saves his own life during heart attack

Alone in a health clinic in a remote seaside settlement in Australia, a 44-year-old nurse sensed he was having a heart attack and sprang into action, saving his own life, a report said on Wednesday.

The man had experienced severe chest pain and dizziness while he was the sole medical professional on duty at a nursing post in Coral Bay, more than 1,000km from Perth, the capital of Western Australia, said the account published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

With the next medical facility 150km away and no one around to help, he hooked himself up to an electrocardiogram, which showed a complete heart block that may have been due to an evolving heart attack.

The man then repeated the test on himself, which confirmed the diagnosis of a heart attack.

He e-mailed the results to a doctor via the Emergency Telehealth Service, and found an emergency physician to talk with him via real-time video.


Then, he inserted intravenous lines in both of his arms and self-administered drugs including aspirin, blood thinners, painkillers and a clot-dissolving drug called tenecteplase.

"He attached his own defibrillator pads and prepared adrenaline, atropine, and amiodarone", which are drugs to treat heart rhythm problems, said the report.

As it turned out, the clot-busting drugs worked, and the heart attack subsided.

He was flown the next day to a cardiology unit in Perth, a stent was inserted in the coronary artery that had grown blocked, and he went home two days later.

Experts said his do-it-yourself MacGyver-like approach would not be recommended for most people.

But the use of the clot-busting drug is standard procedure for people who are far from a hospital, and his own knowledge likely contributed to saving his life.

The case also shows the importance of telemedicine, particularly as hospitals retreat from rural areas, leaving more people far from emergency care.- AFP