Hero Pure Gym boss saves Manchester man’s life after he suffers heart attack while working out

Danny Albanese, 63, collapsed while suffering a cardiac arrest at a gym in Manchester and had his life saved thanks to the use of a defibrilator.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A Manchester man who had a cardiac arrest while at the gym and had his life saved with the help of a defibrillator has backed efforts to get the vital medical equipment into more fitness facilities.

Danny Albanese, 63, was working out at a PureGym facility when he suddenly collapsed and the assistant manager used a defibrillator and gave him CPR until the paramedics arrived. Doctors confirmed this was due to an underlying heart condition and fitted Danny with a special cardiac monitor. With the help of the latest medical equipment he has had no further health issues since and has been able to start training once again.

PureGym has now ensured a defibrillator is installed in every one of the more than 340 gyms it runs up and down the country, and Danny has shared his story to show just how important they can be.

‘They shocked me three times with the defibrillator to bring me round. They saved my life.’

Danny suffered a cardiac arrest while at the gym on New Year’s Eve in 2019. He had always maintained a good level of fitness but in 2016 started to struggle to recover from his workouts, which a visit to the GP followed by referrals for specialist tests confirmed was because he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic condition that causes the enlargement of the heart.

He was given medication to manage it and decrease the risk of suffering a more serious health complication such as a heart attack or a stroke.

He continued regularly attending the gym but his visit on 31 December 2019 ended in a dramatic medical crisis and a race against time to save his life.

Danny said: “I have always been an active person and before the incident, I felt I had a good level of fitness for somebody of my age, attending the gym five or six times a week.

“On the morning of the cardiac arrest, I felt fine, so I headed to the gym and began my warm-up. I’d only been in the gym about five to 10 minutes and was doing some mobility work when I lost all control and felt myself falling backwards. I don’t remember anything after that, until I was being carried out of the gym on a stretcher.

“They shocked me three times with the defibrillator to bring me round, which I’m so grateful for. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the PureGym staff and the paramedics who were on duty the day that I suffered the cardiac arrest, they saved my life.

Danny Albanese in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest at the gymDanny Albanese in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest at the gym
Danny Albanese in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest at the gym

“The paramedics and air ambulance arrived quickly, and both were on the scene within 10 minutes. When I woke up on the stretcher, I looked down to see that I was still receiving chest compressions from a contraption that the paramedics had fitted around my chest. It’s hard to describe it as I had no idea what was going on and I was confused, but I could tell that it was obviously serious. “

The assistant manager at PureGym leapt into action and used the defibrillator at the facility as well as giving Danny CPR until the paramedics arrived to take control of the situation.

In hospital doctors confirmed that Danny’s cardiac arrest was due to his underlying heart condition and fitted him with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) which monitors his heart and sends shocks to the organ if his heart rate shoots up dangerously high.

Thankfully the device has not been triggered since and after seeking guidance from his GP, Danny was able to resume training at the gym.

Danny said: “The incident still plays on my mind and having the ICD fitted is a constant reminder of what’s happened, but it’s helped me to make my body and heart health a huge priority.

“Although I must be mindful not to push myself like I used to, I’ve managed to adapt to build my fitness and energy levels that allow me to get in the gym at least five times per week – which I love and am so fortunate to do!”

What has PureGym said and done about having defibrillators in its gyms?

PureGym has now installed a defibrillator in all of its hundreds of gyms nationwide and said Danny’s story illustrates perfectly why they are so needed. It is also raising money to support the British Heart Foundation with its work helping people prevent, treat and manage their heart conditions.

Rebecca Passmore, UK managing director at PureGym, said: “Danny’s story is a powerful reminder that having access to a defibrillator can help save lives. Although there is currently no national requirement for gyms to have defibrillators on site we recognised the importance of installing them across our gyms, which will help to improve the safety of our members.

“As the first official gym partner of the British Heart Foundation we also recognise the essential role that exercise plays in maintaining a healthy heart.”

Adam Fletcher, head of community health programmes at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We’re thrilled that PureGym has hundreds of defibrillators available across its gym network.

“When someone has a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival are reduced by 10 % for every minute that goes by without CPR or defibrillation. However, early CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival in some cases.

“We’re pleased that this Heart Month PureGym is joining us in the fight to improve survival rates and is leading the way for their industry, recognising that defibrillators are as essential as any other piece of equipment in the gym.”