Man survives despite his heart stopping for 18 hours. [Representational Image]Creative Commons

A 53-year-old man in France survived despite his heart stopping for 18 hours. He reportedly avoided death because he had a heart attack while out walking and suffered hypothermia.

According to The Times, Jonathan Charbit, in charge of the intensive care unit at Montpellier University Hospital in southern France said: "The probability of him surviving was near to zero."

He survived mainly because of the fall in his body temperature due to hypothermia -- it protected his brain and other organs due to the cold. The man was found unconscious by the riverside.

For more than four hours, medics carried on with heart massages before placing him on a heart-lung machine. It kept him alive and after his body temperature rose, they made an attempt to get his heart going.

Charbit said: "This is a textbook case. It's also an extraordinary medical and human adventure."

The doctor added: "The doctors judged, rightly, that it was perhaps the hypothermia that was stopping the heart from getting going again. It was necessary to warm up the patient before concluding that the massages had failed."

However, the patient suffered several broken ribs due to the heart massages. He stayed on the heart-lung machine for three days but is heading towards total recovery, doctors believe.

The incident occurred when the man was returning home from his brother's house.