Quick thinking trainer prevents heart attack

Southport player Ben Presser will forever be grateful for the quick thinking of trainer Ken Matthews, who saved him from a possible heart attack.

After complaining of sore calves and a racing heartbeat during his Colts match on June 11, Matthews sent Presser straight to hospital.

Once there, Presser was placed in a coma and had his heart restarted, after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Doctors said that if it wasn’t for Matthews advice to go to hospital, then Ben would have likely had a heart attack on field.

It was when Presser came from the field for a third time with a racing heartbeat that the experienced trainer knew something was wrong.

“It all clicked when he said he had really sore calves, which can be a sign of a heart attack. I thought no way and sent him to hospital straight away,” said Matthews.

“It was a lucky call and in hind sight it could have been a whole different scenario. We could have been taking a dead player off the field.”

Ben says he owes a huge thanks to Kenny (Ken Matthews) for the way he looked after him and ensured he got the right treatment.

“He’s just someone that all of the boys love and I think that’s because we all know he’s going to be looking out for us whether it’s on or off the field,” Presser said.

Atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia, is irregular heartbeat caused by defunct heart tissue which can lead to serious heart attack or stroke if left untreated.

Presser was sent into a coma and had his heart restarted with a defibrillator so that it would resume at a regular speed.

Presser stayed in hospital overnight and doctors have given him the all clear to play again.

“They said it seems to have been just a one off thing but if it does happen again I may need more substantial treatment such as ‘pulmonary vein isolation’ surgery,” Presser said.

“I am looking forward to finishing the year off strong and healthy and for now I’m just focusing on my footy.”

The coaching staff and Ben’s father, who was running water, allowed Matthews to give Ben his full care by listening to his advice.

“As the trainer I have the final say and the coaching staff adhered to that,” said Matthews.

“It was serious but because his heart rate came down it wasn’t super threatening. The call to go to hospital was what saved the situation.

“It is imperative that every team has qualified trainers.”

Ben has learnt some life lessons which he wants other athletes to take on board.

“Small issues can lead to bigger problems very quickly and therefore when you don’t tell anyone about your health issues it can end up with a severe problem,” he said.

“It’s best to get a professional opinion so that your issue doesn’t affect your future.”

Presser has recovered from the episode and was back in action on the weekend in Southport’s clash against Maroochydore.

By Josh Martin

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