Heavy smoker who 'died' from massive heart attack has turned his life around
A HEAVY smoker who 'died' after suffering a massive heart attack has told how he turned his life around and become a self-confessed fitness fanatic.
Former Army bombardier Steve Furse, aged 54, used to smoke 60 a day, was overweight and inactive.
But three years ago, after the near-fatal experience, he quit smoking, changed his diet and turned his sedentary lifestyle on its head.
Steve said his heart stopped while he was undergoing a 'stent' procedure at Derriford Hospital following a heart attack.
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He described how he felt himself drift away and die before doctors revived him on the operating table.
"I was lying there when all of a sudden there were alarms going off, lights flashing, doctors saying: 'Come on, bring him back to life'," said Steve.
"I felt myself slowly drifting away. You can actually feel yourself going, and then suddenly nothing. It was as if I was gone. I think I was dead.
"Then I felt a pain in my arm and I was back. They had brought me back from the dead.
"They gave me a second chance at life and I'm going to take it and make sure I don't have another heart attack."
Steve, a driver for Plymouth Citybus, said being given a second chance inspired him to transform his life.
The Mannamead grandfather's routine includes running three or four times a week, cycling and weight training.
He urged others to look after their health before it is too late.
In October 2009, Steve had fallen ill for five days with feverish symptoms.
What he mistook for a virus was actually a heart attack.
He said: "I'd been sitting at the computer at home and all of a sudden I felt horrible, I couldn't get comfortable. Then I was violently ill with sickness and diarrhoea.
"I didn't have a clue it was a heart attack. There were a lot of viruses going around.
"I went to bed and the room was going around and around. I had a pain in my right arm and chest and I couldn't sleep. I thought it was just heart burn.
"I went to work for five days and was ill every day with different symptoms. The first day I was yellow and feverish, the second I was cold and couldn't warm up, the next I felt sick.
"On the fifth day I took the dog for a walk and got so out of breath, I had to sit down on the grass. I realised something was seriously wrong."
He went to his GP who diagnosed a heart attack and immediately referred him to Derriford Hospital by ambulance.
Consultants said Steve had damaged his heart and needed a stent.
The procedure involves a tiny tube being inserted through the wrist in to the coronary artery while the patient is awake.
And what happened during the procedure "changed everything".
"From the day I went into hospital I never touched another cigarette," he said. "It was the best thing I could have done.
"It was time to change my life. I couldn't just accept it and go back to my old ways."
He spent seven days in hospital and received cardiac rehabilitation through Plymouth YMCA's Exercise on Referral programme.
He took the exercise regime many steps further – gradually building up to hours running, cardio, weights and cycling. He has gone from 13 to 11 stone.
"I wanted to prove that you can have a heart attack but still better yourself," he said. "I'm 54, I've got muscles in my chest that I didn't have when I was in the Army and I've never felt better."
Steve was in the Army for 12 years until 1989. He became a bombardier in the 47 Field regiment Royal Artillery.
The father of four and grandfather of nine has been a driver for Citybus for 11 years.
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