An inquest in Cork has heard that the availability of a second catherisation laboratory at University Hospital Waterford would not have saved a man who suffered a major heart attack last year.

Tom Power suffered a free wall rupture of his heart and died while he was being transferred from Waterford to Cork University Hospital.

The death of the 40-year-old on 18 June 2017 had been raised in the context of a campaign calling for the provision of a second cath lab at UHW.

The inquest heard that a post-mortem examination showed that Mr Power had had a heart attack between three and seven days before he complained of chest pains and presented at UHW's Emergency Department.

The free wall rupture that Mr Power subsequently suffered while travelling to Cork was described by doctors at today's inquest as the most feared mechanical complication of a heart attack.

The inquest was told that to survive that rupture, Mr Power would have needed access to a cardiac theatre for open-heart surgery within two minutes of it occurring, and the availability of a catherisation laboratory would not have changed the outcome for him.

The jury recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

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Mr Power's wife has called on the Government to improve cardiac services in the southeast, saying the provision of a second permanent cath lab there was sadly lacking.

Campaigners in Waterford and the southeast have been demanding a second cath lab at the hospital so that cardiac services there could be offered on a 24/7 basis.

A catherisation laboratory is used to diagnose coronary heart disease or to deploy a stent in the coronary artery.

Treatment for a free wall rupture of the heart is open-heart surgery, which is currently only available in three centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway.