According to the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest claims more lives than breast cancer, pneumonia, auto accidents, and house fires combined. The main issue with cardiac arrest is that it happens abruptly and not necessarily when people are near a hospital.
“It was totally unexpected,” Joseph Branham recalls. “I didn’t have a family history of heart problems, never felt any issue. Then, in November of 2019, my wife said I sat up in bed, gasped, got up to go the restroom and just fell down.”
The 57-year-old’s heart had stopped. Luckily his wife, Rebecca, knew a life-saving skill that made all the difference.
“She started CPR and got 911 on the phone,” he states. “Then she kept going until the paramedics got there. She’s the real hero.”
Someone who quickly administer CPR during cardiac arrest the way Rebecca did can double a person’s chances of survival. Unfortunately, the AHA says 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act. This could be because they don’t know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.
“We don’t often get patients who survive after a cardiac arrest like that,” says Bhavdeep Gupta, MD, the cardiologist that treated Joseph after he was rushed to Bon Secours – Maryview Medical Center. Joseph was rushed to the cath lab where Dr. Gupta was able to open the blocked artery that caused his cardiac arrest.
“His wife’s actions are absolutely the reason he survived without much brain damage,” says Dr. Gupta. “Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see cardiac arrest patients who don’t have a history of heart disease.”
Dr. Gupta says everyone should have a primary care physician for regular check-ups to help you manage your heart health. They can help keep track of stats such as your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI).
Joseph has nothing but good things to say about the care he received at Bon Secours. He’s recovering well and should be returning to work this month. However, he knows what happened before he got to the hospital is the real reason he’s still here today.
“Without CPR, I wouldn’t be here,” Joseph says. “This is something people need to see and know … just how serious it is.”
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