06 June 2018
WEDNESDAY, June 6, 2018 (American Heart Association) — The night before leaving on a cruise, Alisa Mari was trying to free up room on her DVR to record programs she would miss while on vacation. One of the space-eaters was a talk show demonstrating how to perform CPR that she’d been saving for her husband, Andy. Just watch this so I can delete it! she said, and he did. A week later, their cruise ended in Miami, where Andy’s mom lived in a senior community. Alisa greeted her mother-in-law, then excused herself to visit the restroom. The next thing Andy heard was a loud thud. He rushed to the bathroom and found Alisa on the floor, foaming at the mouth. His mom’s apartment was equipped with an emergency alert cord; she rushed to pull it. Meanwhile, Andy checked for a pulse and found none, so he began chest compressions — using the technique he’d learned on the program Alisa prodded him to watch the week before. “It was just automatic,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing where once you learn, you know what to do.” Alisa suffered a cardiac arrest, which essentially means the power went out in her heart. This is different from a heart attack, which is caused by blood flow to the heart being blocked. More than 350,000 people in the United States suffer a cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year. If CPR is performed immediately, it can double or even triple the chance of survival. Alisa was among those fortunate to have a potential lifesaver nearby — and fortunate that Andy was willing to act. Hands-only CPR requires pressing hard and fast in the center of the chest, preferably at a rate of about 100 to 120 compressions per minute — about the rhythm of the classic disco song, “Stayin’ Alive.” Andy spent about 15 minutes giving Alisa compressions. This kept blood flowing to her organs until help arrived. Paramedics took over CPR, then tried to restart Alisa’s heart by deploying an electric shock using an automatic external defibrillator. It wasn’t until they reached the hospital that doctors were finally able to stabilize her. A few days later, doctors placed an implantable cardioverter defibrillator under Alisa’s skin to shock her heart if it goes into a fatal rhythm again. Doctors also discovered a significant blockage in one of her heart’s arteries, so they inserted a stent to prop it open. Alisa was 44 at the time of her cardiac arrest in 2010, but was at risk for heart problems. She’d long been treated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and was a former smoker. She also has a family history of heart disease, including some relatives who died in their 40s from heart-related conditions. Alisa and Andy lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the time, and became advocates for wider CPR training. They also began participating in their local Heart Walk. They now live in Ramsey Springs, Mississippi, about 25 miles north of Biloxi, and own a convenience store. They keep a bucket on the counter collecting money to help fund CPR training classes for school bus drivers in the rural area. “It could take 30 minutes for an ambulance to reach some areas out here,” Alisa said. “If my husband didn’t know CPR, I wouldn’t be here.”
19 March 2018
MONDAY, March 19, 2018 (American Heart Association) — Lee Matzeder’s heart was racing and his chest felt tight during the Kansas City Royals’ World Series victory parade in downtown Kansas City in 2015. But it wasn’t from the excitement of being surrounded by 800,000 likeminded fans celebrating a world championship. The 55-year-old elementary school physical education teacher later learned he was having a heart attack. Fortunately for Matzeder, a complete stranger who just happened to be a registered nurse saw him among the packed crowd, recognized the symptoms and took action. While he doesn’t remember her name, Matzeder said the nurse offered him a granola bar, then escorted him to a medical tent when the snack didn’t help his condition. “It was like divine intervention,” he recalled. Onsite medical staff told Matzeder his blood pressure was dangerously high at 165/135. When staffers found his wife Tina and the rest of the family, she knew right away that her husband was in trouble. “I’m a certified medical technician and have worked in home health nursing for 26 years,” Tina Matzeder said. “So with his chest pain, his skin discoloration and his muscle weakness, I knew he needed immediate medical care.” At the University of Kansas Hospital, a dye test showed two of Matzeder’s coronary arteries were almost completely blocked. A third artery was 70 percent blocked. While heart disease runs in his family — his father died of a heart attack — Matzeder said he still was shocked by the news. “I’m 5-foot-8 and weigh 180 pounds, so I always thought I was in pretty good shape,” he said. The following day, doctors performed a triple bypass operation on Matzeder. The procedure was successful and he remains healthy, according to Janae Carlson, his nurse practitioner at Shawnee Mission Cardiology in Leavenworth, Kansas. “His cholesterol is down, his blood pressure is good and he takes his meds as directed,” she said. “He’s a teacher, so he knows the value of education, and he listens to what I and his doctors tell him.” The story could have ended there with Matzeder living a happy, healthy life, but it didn’t. Soon after he returned to teaching at his school, one of his first-grade students, Chase Maltbie, lost his 39-year-old father to a heart attack while stationed in Korea with the U.S. Army. “Chase was six when he lost his father,” Matzeder said. “And I was six when I lost mine.” Chase and Matzeder developed a strong bond over their shared loss. Matzeder encouraged Chase to help raise funds for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope For Heart, a program the school had been involved in for many years. Chase turned out to be a fundraising dynamo, raising $1,785 in 2016, and $2,260 in 2017. “That is the most money any student of mine has ever raised in the 21 years I’ve been involved in Jump Rope For Heart,” Matzeder said.