Steve Dyer said the first heart attack felt like
Steve Dyer said the first heart attack felt like "indigestion at an extreme level". Photo / George Novak

11 heart attacks in 10 days and he lived to tell story

A NEW Zealand man had five heart attacks before he realised something was wrong and is now warning other people to be aware of the symptoms.

New Zealand Fire Service safety and wellbeing coordinator Steve Dyer was 52 when he suffered 11 heart attacks in 10 days.

Mr Dyer said he had three major heart attacks and two smaller ones before going to the doctor.

A heart attack felt like indigestion at an extreme level, he said.

"The first one, I was standing at the kitchen sink and the next thing I had this extreme discomfort and a feeling of loss of energy and strength. When I say extreme, I 100 per cent couldn't control the functionality of my body. My breathing was erratic and my chest was extremely painful to the nearest touch of the finger.

"You could put a stuffed teddy bear on your chest and it would feel like a bowling ball.

"It was extremely sensitive."

Mr Dyer said he was unaware that jaw pain, tingling down his arm and a sensitive chest were signs something was wrong.

"Now people probably think 'this guy is an idiot', but you just give an explanation that maybe you've been working too hard or you ate too fast.

"I got an enormous sensation of anxiety, discomfort and a high level of anxiety. The smaller heart attacks feel like a cross between indigestion and extreme discomfort."

Lucky to be alive

He went to Auckland City Hospital and was transferred to North Shore Hospital.

"The doctors then told me I had been having heart attacks. Next thing I was wired up and in primary care."

Mr Dyer said he had six more heart attacks while in hospital.

He was surprised by what they felt like. "It wasn't what I had envisioned in my mind. I thought I'd get a tender chest.

"I take pills every day now and it's a reminder of how lucky I am to still be here."

Medical director at The Heart Foundation and cardiologist Gerry Devlin said to not ignore chest discomfort.

"The common perception is that a heart attack is having a really bad pain. Yes that still happens, but the presentation can be subtle.

"Every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies of a heart attack and one third of those people don't get to us first. That's something we need to change."

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