Heart disease led to 42-year-old’s death at gym

Fareham Leisure Centre, Fareham.
Fareham Leisure Centre, Fareham.
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A SPORTS enthusiast who collapsed and died at a gym had an undiagnosed heart condition, an inquest heard.

Chris Holden had been using one of the running machines at Fareham Leisure Centre’s gym when he was seen by fellow users to stumble and fall on October 5 last year.

The 42-year-old banged his head and was struggling to breathe. Staff were quick to put him in the recovery position, dial 999 and administer CPR when he stopped breathing.

He was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth by ambulance where a team at A&E continued to try and resuscitate Mr Holden, but he was declared dead at 7.44pm.

Police interviewed other gym users and staff as well as checking the equipment Mr Holden had used, and decided that his death was not suspicious.

Pathologist Dr Barbara Borek told the inquest that although the father-of-two, of Gunners Mews in Bishop’s Waltham, appeared healthy his heart was unusually large.

Further tests also revealed he had cardiac sarcoidosis. She said: ‘It is an inflammatory condition that is a dangerous condition to have in the heart.

‘It forms little nodules that can either interfere with the electrical rhythm of the heart or cause scarring in the heart.’

When asked if the exercise could have contributed to his death, Dr Borek said: ‘Possibly – when you exercise you put extra strain on the heart.’

Several members of Mr Holden’s family attended the inquest. Speaking afterwards, sister Heather Holden said: ‘He completely lived life to the full and he loved all his family.’

Sandra Gould, also his sister, added: ‘He was a fun-loving, outgoing guy.

‘He played rugby and did a lot of sport, so it wasn’t like this was something unusual for him.’

David Horsley, coroner for Portsmouth and south east Hampshire, said: ‘Unfortunately he had been suffering from this cardiac sarcoidosis.

‘He had been a fit person who looked after himself so it must have come as a terrible shock that he died in this way.

‘This is a rare disease but it is a natural one. I therefore record a verdict of death by natural causes.’