Bristol man Andrew Nichol died in hotel pool after joining in game of water polo
A FATHER died after collapsing in the pool of his hotel in Tenerife following a game of water polo.
Andrew Nichol, 38, had been on holiday with his wife Jane and their three children in the Tamaimo Tropical Aparthotel in Santiago Del Teide when tragedy struck.
Mr Nichol, a company director, had been enjoying a game of water polo organised by the hotel's entertainment team on October 18, 2010, when lifeguard Yohandy Fonseca spotted him lying face down in the water.
Despite desperate attempts to resuscitate Mr Nichol, who was a part-time swimming coach, by Mr Fonseca, hotel guests, doctors and paramedics, he died.
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An inquest at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court heard Mr Nichol had been diagnosed with hypertrophic obstructive myopathy, a form of heart disease causing a thickening of a vital muscle, and mild asthma. He had been under the care of cardiologist Dr Andrew Skyrme-Jones.
Dr Karen Denton, a consultant cardiologist at Southmead Hospital who carried out the post mortem examination, said the cause of death could not be ascertained.
But she added that it was most likely Mr Nichol had suffered a cardiac event in the water, adding: "Hypertrophic obstructive myopathy can cause sudden death, especially following exertion."
Mr Nichol had been under the care of cardiologists since first suffering problems with chest pain in 2006.
After tests revealed the condition he was put on beta blockers and blood thinning medication and told to avoid any intense exercise.
He had regular echocardiograms and tests and over the next few years was admitted to hospital on a number of occasions with chest pains and palpitations.
Discussions had taken place about whether Mr Nichol should be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, a small device put into a patient's body which works by sending electric shocks to regulate the heart beat. But although doctors said Mr Nichol had two of the risk factors – abnormal blood pressure response to exercise and ventricular tachycardia, a sporadic rapid heart beat – he did not meet NHS guidelines to be fitted with the device.
Mr Nichol was admitted to Frenchay Hospital five months before his death after he collapsed ahead of taking a swimming exam.
Doctors identified two other potential unconfirmed risk factors – a thickening of the left wall of the heart and the fact he may have fainted before the exam. But they decided, instead of fitting an ICD, to send Mr Nichols to a specialist hospital for further tests ahead of any other treatment being decided.
Mr Nichol had a further echocardiogram in July 2010, but because of an administrative error, a follow-up appointment was not made – a move described as a 'missed opportunity' to review Mr Nichol's condition.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Skyrme-Jones said: "I don't think that had the appointment happened, I would have changed my advice."
An independent report into Mr Nichol's death was carried out by consultant cardiologist Dr Stephen Brecker.
Dr Brecker said: "This was not a clear-cut case. The weight of evidence was to do something, but there was room for debate."
Coroner Maria Voisin recorded a narrative verdict and said: "On the balance of probability his death was associated with his known medical condition of hypertrophic obstructive myopathy.
"At some time in July Mr Nichol should have seen his consultant. Due to an administrative error this did not take place. This resulted in a lost opportunity to render medical care and treatment."
In a statement released after the hearing the family said they were "deeply concerned" about his care.
They said: "If Andrew's condition had been managed with an implantable defibrillator by those responsible for his medical treatment in the UK, we believe he would most likely still be with us today."