STAYING HEALTHY: James Craig, now 45, has been taking part in St Andrew's Hospital Toowoomba's cardiac rehabilitation program since he had a heart attack at the age of 42.
STAYING HEALTHY: James Craig, now 45, has been taking part in St Andrew's Hospital Toowoomba's cardiac rehabilitation program since he had a heart attack at the age of 42. Matthew Newton

Survivor speaks out: 'I'm lucky to be alive'

SUDDENLY, James Craig heard sirens and woke in the back of an ambulance near the Toowoomba Hospital.

Turning to the paramedic next to him, he said: "I thought you were supposed to take me to St Andrew's Hospital."

The paramedic said no, going on to explain to Mr Craig that he had gone into cardiac arrest not once, but twice, and they'd had to detour to stabilise him before heading to St Andrew's.

And in the rear of the ambulance, the Toowoomba father thought to himself, "Oh my God."

Two years on, Mr Craig is a regular at the St Andrew's cardiac rehabilitation program, he's back in full-time work running his own business, given up smoking, and is eating healthier.

He urged other people to make the right choices when it came to their health.

"I am very lucky to be even here talking to you," he said.

Mr Craig was just 42 and a half when he suffered his heart attack.

He had just had a serious argument with his father over the phone and "his blood was boiling".

"I came down to the house and my wife said to me - oh are you alright?" he recalled.

"I had a smoke, a bottle of water, another smoke, another a bottle of water. And all of a sudden I said to the wife, I think you better call an ambulance because I don't feel right.

"My fingers were tingling, and it went from this hand to this hand. Luckily the ambulance got there when they did because otherwise I wouldn't be here.

"My daughter was graduating school at the time and I had a car down at Toogoolawah getting all fixed up and everything. I said to the paramedics please keep me alive because I've got too much to live for.

"So yeah, whatever anyone does, make the right choices."

A reduction in the impact of Australia's biggest serial killer, heart disease, is the focus of National Heart Week, which runs from April 28 to May 4.

The disease kills 51 Australians each day.

To mark the important week, St Andrew's Hospital Toowoomba undertook a number of activities within the hospital, including heart health checks.

The hospital opened the region's first 24/7 emergency cardiac centre six months ago.

The new service has already seen close to 900 patients.



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