It turns out that these two women had a different diagnosis for their heart problems.
The first had a heart attack. After arriving at the hospital, it was discovered that she had a 98% blockage in one artery and an 85% blockage in another. Her cardiologist told her he was amazed that she made it to the hospital alive.
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygenated blood from reaching a section of the heart. This can cause damage to the heart.
Sue was playing tennis on a Tuesday morning, when she started having some intense symptoms. She crumpled onto the court and said it felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest. By chance, a fire truck was slowly driving by and one of the women at the scene ran out and flagged it down.
The paramedics were able to assess the situation and immediately called an ambulance.
The second friend had a cardiac arrest. This is caused when the heart's electrical system malfunctions. Death can result when the heart suddenly stops working properly.
Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed and a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes.
When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the brain is the first part of the body to suffer because it doesn't have a reserve of oxygen-rich blood. Reduced blood flow to your brain causes unconsciousness.
Betsy was feeling very tired and went to bed early that Friday night. After a while, her husband decided to go in and check on her. He said her breathing was loud and erratic and she was unconscious. He immediately called for an ambulance.
The paramedics were able to perform CPR and used a defibrillator on her before taking her on a wild, hour-long ride to the hospital.
Her cardiologist found that she did not have a blockage in her heart, but her potassium levels were drastically low, thus causing her heart’s electrical system to malfunction. Turns out she was taking the diuretic hydroclorothiazid(HCTZ) which leached all the potassium from her system.
Her pulmonologist had to place her on a ventilator to help her breathing.
Sue had two stents placed to help open her arteries and was sent home after a couple of days.
The doctors were trying to stabilize Betsy’s heart for nearly ten days before they inserted a defibrillator/pacemaker. Finally, she was feeling better and released a day after her surgery.
There's no sure way to know your risk of sudden cardiac arrest or of having a heart attack, so reducing your risk is the best strategy.
Steps to take to reduce your risk include regular checkups, screening for heart disease and living a heart-healthy lifestyle with the following approaches:
- Get careful monitoring if you are taking a diuretic
- Don't smoke
- Use alcohol in moderation
- Stay physically active
- Eat a nutritious, plant-based diet, and
- Get your total cholesterol level below 150 mg/dL naturally.
Such incidences as these can certainly scare friends and family, but they can be totally life altering for the victim.
Thank goodness these lovely women lived through their horrible ordeals!
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© 2007-2017 Melinda Coker
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