Kamloops man shares story of cardiac arrest during 'Heart Month'

By Jill Sperling
February 22, 2019 - 5:05pm

KAMLOOPS — February is Heart Month. 

It's a time to raise awareness for healthy lifestyles and the warning signs of heart disease of heart attack. 

It's a message that's become very important to Colin Lyons, a local man who went into cardiac arrest a little over a year ago. 

It happened on a basketball court at the Tournament Capital Centre. 

"It was a normal day, just playing basketball the lights went out that night," Lyons said.

At 45 years old, Lyons suffered a cardiac arrest. Teammates and TCC employees rushed in to help, using an AED to help save his life. 

"I was walking out, so I heard all the commotion," said Mike Ferguson, who plays in the same men's league as Lyons. "By the time I came over he was being attended to. At the time I didn't even know it was Colin until a little bit later."

Lyons and Ferguson are common faces on the basketball courts, and both are now well aware of the need to take care of their cardiovascular health. 

"I've generally had this lifestyle because my father had his heart attack in '97," Ferguson said. "So, as a result of that I changed what I did and carried it on."

For Lyons, his cardiac arrest was a wake-up call to live a healthier life, moving to a more plant-based diet, exercising on a regular basis and removing external stressors. 

"It's all mind-set and discipline," Lyons said. "If you want to do something, do it. Hold yourself accountable, put a vision board on the wall of what you want to become, give yourself targets, I call them sprints ... you don't have to beat yourself up for not doing it all the time consistently, you just have to remind yourself to consistently be better."

The Heart and Stroke Foundation says the best way for people to prevent a heart attack is to educate themselves about risk factors, prevention, and the signs. 

"That can feel like a heaviness, a weight, a shooting pain, a burning pain," said Ashley Fontaine, community fundraising coordinator with the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Kamloops. 

"It's different for everybody. Sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, pain in the upper body, so in your jaw, your shoulders, your arms, your back, and just being aware of what's happening."

Lyons may not have recognized the signs prior to his health emergency, but he was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right people. 

"They started on me right away when I went down on the basketball court here, and the lifeguards came with the AED," Lyons said. "You know, that's the difference maker right there is having an AED available, and that's where it all sort of began, so being out for eight minutes, it's a long time from what I hear. I came back with no more brain damage so we're pretty lucky that way."

WOMEN'S CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

During Heart Month the Heart and Stroke Foundation is hoping to put an emphasis on women's health.

According to the foundation, heart attack symptoms go unrecognized in 53 per cent of women. 

In order to raise awareness and funds for women's heart health, the sixth annual Strike-A-Thon fundraiser will be held at Ladies Only Fitness on Victoria Street from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. 

"The ladies, they just get out there and they kick butt and they kick bags," Fontaine said. "They have three heats for an hour straight, so they're just practicing their skills, they're getting sponsored, they're raising funds. Supplement King is going to be there and they're going to be giving out demos. It's just a really great way to raise awareness, and especially because they're being physically active."

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is encouraging people to get involved in the event by donating to a team.

"People can go on our website, myownfundraiser.ca," Fontaine said. "They would just look to find a team and it's called 'Strike-A-Thon,' if they look it up they can click to donate, or they can show up, have some samples, you know drop a little cash in the box."

For more information about the heart and stroke foundation click here. 

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