Fit and healthy 43-year-old rushed to Sheffield hospital after heart attack wants others to know the symptoms

A regular gym-goer who suffered a heart attack aged just 43 wants to make sure other people know the warning signs.

Friday, 4th March 2022, 8:30 am
Updated Friday, 4th March 2022, 5:25 pm

On February 1, Gary Topley suffered a heart attack despite apparently being completely healthy, and was rushed to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital for urgent surgery.

A month prior to the heart attack, Gary says he began getting pains in his chest and down his left arm, and started feeling clammy and under the weather.

"I go to the gym quite often so I just put it down to maybe aches and pains from the gym – thought maybe I lifted weights that were too heavy and I didn’t really think much of it,” he said.

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Gary Topley around 2 weeks after his heart attack.

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"That happened three times prior to my heart attack. I just took Ibuprofen and paracetamol and it seemed to wear itself off.

On Tuesday, February 1, Gary woke up with it being more painful than usual, so, believing it was just the same pain from a possible over-stretch, Gary just took more paracetamol and thought it would go away.

When the pain didn’t go away, Gary went to hospital and just 25 minutes later suffered a heart attack.

Gary Topley around 5 minutes after his heart attack.

Before this, Gary had been completely healthy and had never experienced anything like this before.

"I felt alright, before that I was at the gym three or four times a week, I don’t drink or smoke, I am relatively young, so I’m active and quite a fit person but obviously my insides were doing different,” he said.

Gary has recovered well but he says the worst part now is the psychological impact – whenever he gets aches or pains, he does panic and worry quite a bit that he will have another heart attack.

Gary Topley before his heart attack.

He initially went to a Chesterfield hospital as that is where Gary lives, but he was transferred to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where they put a stent in his left artery on the day of the heart attack, and two days later, put one in the right artery too.

"The message I want to get out there is if there is anyone that experiences the same or similar symptoms to me, go to your doctor or go have it checked out, and if you are in pain, go to A&E,” he said.

“I just want to thank the staff at the hospital who obviously sorted things out, put things right and put the stents in and looked after me.”

According to the British Heart Foundation, the symptoms for a heart attack are usually:

- chest pains that may feel like squeezing, pressure or heaviness in your chest. May also be a burning sensation. Pain levels vary from person to person – some may be severe pain whereas some may just feel uncomfortable

- pain may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach

- feeling sick, light-headed, sweaty or short-of-breath.

Less common symptoms include:

- feeling of anxiety similar to a panic attack

- excessive coughing or wheezing.

If you believe you’re having a heart attack, The British Heart Foundation recommends you:

- sit down and rest

- take 300mg of aspirin only if it is in arm’s reach.

- remain calm and wait for paramedics

For more about heart attacks and the symptoms, visit: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/conditions/heart-attack/symptoms