HomeHealthy LifeHeart attack: A fit and healthy lawyer ‘dies nine times’ in his sleep from an undiagnosed illness
Heart attack: A fit and healthy lawyer ‘dies nine times’ in his sleep from an undiagnosed illness
August 4, 2022
A teaching assistant whose fit and healthy husband has survived multiple unexplained cardiac arrests wants CPR taught “everywhere” after he “died nine times” in less than 10 hours.
When Naomi Qureshi, 53, woke up next to attorney Mason Qureshi, 54, in March 2022 to hear him snoring loudly, she had no idea it was the first sign that an undiagnosed heart problem would turn her life upside down .
Noticing he was unconscious, she admitted to having “panic attacks” as paramedics were called and he was taken to the hospital, where she later found he had suffered nine cardiac arrests – when the heart suddenly stopped to pump blood around the body.
Naomi, who lives in Solihull, West Midlands, with Mason and their teenage daughters Amelia-Rose, 16, and Tabitha-Belle, 13, says: “Our girls call Mason their superhero because it’s an absolute miracle that he is with us today.
“We’re incredibly lucky to still have this annoying man because at the end of the day I love him and the girls love him.”
She is now campaigning to ensure that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is taught everywhere after learning that less than 10 per cent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive, according to the NHS.
Naomi, who learned how to perform CPR online, says: “It’s terrifying that his heart could just stop every day.
“That’s why I think it’s so important that we all learn how to perform CPR.
“We don’t know why this happened to Mason, so we don’t know how to predict it happening again.
“CPR is something we should be teaching everywhere because it’s so simple and it can mean the difference between life and death.”
Naomi met Mason 25 years ago in Birmingham and says he has always kept himself in ‘top shape’ by going to the gym regularly and also playing tennis twice a week.
When he complained about a sudden “fluttering” in his heart in June 2021, it was a massive shock.
After a visit to her GP and a stress test later in October, Mason was told he was fine.
Knowing there was nothing to worry about, Naomi says, “Out of the blue, his heart was racing and fluttering. It happened by accident.
“But after they did tests, they told us he was fine and we had nothing to worry about.”
In February 2022, Mason had a 24-hour electrocardiogram (ECG) test, which continuously records a person’s electrical activity, to find a diagnosis that revealed he had an ectopic heartbeat — an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the heart contracts too early, which affects more than 2 million people in the UK, according to the NHS.
But the couple were again told they were “better than fine” and that Mason’s heart was healthy.
Naomi says: “We were so concerned but when the tests came back we were reassured that Mason was fine.
“They said he was better than fine, he was perfectly healthy.”
But on the morning of March 26, the family’s world came crashing down when Naomi woke up to find Mason unconscious and called 999.
She says: “Mason suddenly started making snoring noises which I shrugged until they stopped and I told him to stop.
“But when I turned around, his eyes were closed and he was unconscious.”
Mason had regained consciousness when paramedics arrived, but his heart rate suddenly rose to 315 beats per minute – with anything over 100 beats per minute considered “too fast for most people”, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Naomi says: “He then started convulsing, his eyes were rolling and he got so rigid. It was so awful.
“I saw his heart was beating at 315 beats per minute, it was just crazy. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”
She adds: “I thought he was going to die. I was terrified, I didn’t want to lose him.
“We had two girls and they didn’t want to lose their father.”
Mason was taken to Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, but because of his critically high heart rate, medics didn’t expect him to survive the night, according to Naomi.
She says: “A good friend of ours is a paramedic at the hospital and he told us they all thought Mason was gone.
“His heart rate was so high they didn’t expect him to make it through the day.”
Due to strict Covid regulations, Naomi was unable to visit Mason in hospital so it was suggested she go home and await his results.
But about five hours later she was asked to return to the hospital to see him as he was in intensive care after suffering seven cardiac arrests.
Naomi says, “I thought they were prepping his body so I could identify him. It was awful and upsetting, me and my daughter were just in floods of tears.
“We raced to the station and I imagined all the worst-case scenarios.
“Luckily he was still with us, even though he was feeling so bad.”
Unfortunately, while Naomi was in the hospital with Mason, he suffered two more cardiac arrests.
Mason spent nine days in the hospital where he was fitted with a pacemaker and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) — a device similar to a pacemaker that sends a more powerful electric shock to the heart to restart it and get it pumping again bring to.
He was also told to take beta blockers to slow his heart rate.
But doctors couldn’t explain why his heart rate suddenly skyrocketed, and the couple are now hoping to do genetic testing to find out more.
Naomi says, “It’s really difficult because we have no idea why this happened to Mason and we don’t know if it’s something that could affect our daughters as well.
“But we will keep investigating until we find an answer.”
The family has now returned to relatively normal life, with Mason back to work and playing tennis.
But Naomi says she still worries every day about losing him.
She explains: “It was so hard. I even wondered if it was me causing him stress, but my GP told me it wasn’t stress related.
“It’s very difficult to deal with something if you don’t know where it’s coming from.”
She adds: “Every little twitch he has and every time he snores I panic because I think I might lose him.
“Our little girl has become quite clingy as the girls were there when it all started.
“We live in fear that it could happen again.”
And Mason stresses the importance of joining The Circuit, the national defibrillator network that shows where defibrillators can be found across the country.
He says: “CPR is essentially a stopgap, it’s a patch, it’s the only thing you can do while waiting for paramedics.
“But a defibrillator is what can restart the heart and potentially save lives.”
Meanwhile, Mason just feels lucky to be alive.
He says: “My daughter always says to me: ‘My dad, my superhero’, which makes me happy.
“But trying to process everything we’ve been through as a family has been the hardest part.
“I’m alive and for me that’s a plus.
“I have the most supportive family and being with them every day is the best place for me.”
Sue Hampshire, Director of Clinical and Service Development at Resuscitation Council UK, stressed the importance of CPR in saving lives.
She says: “Bystander CPR is a key part of the ‘chain of survival’ — calling 999, starting chest compressions, and getting a defibrillator — which gives people the best chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
“In Denmark, where CPR training has been mandatory since 2005, the odds of recovering from cardiac arrest outside the hospital are three times higher than in the UK.
“We believe everyone should learn the skills to save a life and have created resources to help teachers confidently deliver CPR education to their students across the UK.”
For more information visit: https://lifesaver.org.uk/ to learn more about CPR, defibrillation and suffocation management