A 37-year-old Essex mother of two who had a massive heart attack believes a pioneering drug treatment has given her a second chance.
Mrs Charlsworth's heart attack surprised paramedic Pete Bumphrey
Alexandra Charlsworth, of Great Notley, called 999 on 12 July when pains in her chest became intolerable.
However, Mrs Charlsworth was saved by Essex paramedics who are among the few in the country to administer powerful new blood-thinning drugs.
Mrs Charlsworth says the fast treatment means she can still lead a normal life.
Just three weeks after the shattering experience she says she is getting back to her normal routine but the day will live with her for ever.
As she was getting the children ready for school she suddenly began sweating and developed a severe pain in her chest.
"The only way I can describe it is that it was like having an elephant sitting on it," she said.
"My husband Richard took the children to school, but the pain just kept getting worse. In the end I had to call 999 and ask for an ambulance."
Paramedic Pete Bumphrey decided Mrs Charlsworth was a good candidate to be thrombolysed - the name for the blood-thinning procedure.
He said: "It is not something we take lightly - there are very strict guidelines that have to be followed.
"It is a wonderful treatment that reduces damage to the heart muscle. The benefits of its early use are dramatic.
Fit and healthy
"I was as surprised as anyone when I found out what was happening. You associate heart attacks with older people, not a woman in her 30s who outwardly looked fit and healthy."
Essex, which has been using the drug for about two years, is the leading trust in the UK in the use of the drug outside hospitals - all paramedics are trained in its use.
Mrs Charlsworth added: "Because Pete thrombolysed me so soon the damage to my heart is minimal - there is no reason why I can't lead a normal life.
"I used to smoke up to 15 cigarettes a day but going through something like this really makes you think hard about your life."