A nurse in an isolated town on Australia’s far west coast managed to diagnose and treat himself after a heart attack.

The case was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 44-year-old nurse was stationed at a nursing post in Coral Bay, about 1000km from the nearest major city, Perth, when he started suffering chest pains.

He pushed past the pain to give himself an electrocardiogram (ECG) and emailed the results to an ER physician through Australia’s Emergency Telehealth Service.

According to medical staffer Felicity Lee, “the electrocardiogram showed complete heart block”.

A second ECG, which the man performed and quickly emailed to the doctors, showed even more signs of a heart attack.

To save his own life, he set up an intravenous line for drugs, including clot-busters and painkillers.

He also “attached his own defibrillator pads and prepared adrenaline”, and administered himself drugs needed to correct his irregular heart rhythms and clear the blockage in his heart.

The report says the procedures bought him the necessary time until emergency help arrived.

He was then flown to a cardiology centre in Perth, where he received a stent before being discharged 48 hours later.

Although the nurse did everything right and probably saved his own life, the report warns that “a person’s self-management of a [heart attack] cannot be considered medically appropriate if any other option is available”.


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