Case Study: Karl - "Luckily when I had my sudden cardiac arrest, my wife was with me"

Karl had been experiencing and managing atrial fibrillation (AF) for about three years. In mid-April 2019, he had been suffering with a sore chest for a week before seeking medical attention. He was quickly admitted to hospital and informed that he may have had a heart attack - a revelation that left him shocked.

A heart attack occurs when there is blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the heart. This causes a lack of oxygen supply and symptoms like chest pain, but the heart usually keeps beating. By contrast, a cardiac arrest means that the heart stops beating.

After waiting a week for an angiogram, it was confirmed that Karl hadn't suffered a heart attack, but a 90% blocked artery was discovered. Ultimately, surgery was deemed necessary, and a date was set.

However, just 18 hours later, Karl experienced a sudden cardiac arrest in front of his wife, with no warning signs preceding it. She immediately called 999 and was advised to start CPR. Karl was unconscious for 11 minutes, eventually being revived by paramedics who responded swiftly to the emergency call.

I thought I would be okay waiting for my operation. Luckily when I had my sudden cardiac arrest, my wife was with me and was able to call 999 for immediate help.
Karl Perry, cardiac arrest survivor

Following the cardiac arrest, Karl underwent cardiac bypass surgery. Recovery was slow, marked by hallucinations and the development of tachy-brady syndrome (where the heart beat goes from very fast to very slow, very quickly), which necessitated the implantation of a pacemaker.

In the aftermath, Karl’s wife underwent counselling to cope with the trauma. Karl grappled with existential questions, contemplating the possibility of parallel universes where he might have met different fates. The challenges of such thoughts fed into his motivation to overcome any notion of a less active lifestyle.

Remarkably, just 10 weeks after his cardiac arrest, Karl completed a challenging 10-mile coastal walk with his brother, an achievement that he says “felt akin to conquering Everest”.

Whilst he’d always enjoyed walking and cycling in the hills, since his cardiac arrest, he’s been even more active. He now cycles even more regularly and has undertaken coast-to-coast journeys across various regions of the UK, raising over £5,000 for the hospital ward that cared for him.

This life-altering experience prompted Karl to reassess his priorities, leading him to transition from owning an event management agency to pursuing a career as a personal and business coach, author, copywriter, and speaker.