Patient Comments: Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Experience

What was your experience with sudden cardiac arrest?

Comment from: mama_of_2, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: May 27

I had a sudden cardiac arrest a few years ago, and I was clinically dead for 13 minutes. They told my family that I would be a vegetable. I was in an induced coma for six days and in the hospital for a little under a month. I had a 3-month-old daughter. I was 17 years old. I am not happily married to the man who woke up next to his dead fiancée. We have two beautiful children. I am so grateful to be alive despite the hardships that I have faced since. I had an ICD implanted in 2007, and I have had three surgeries on it because of "malfunctions." The first one, my pacing lead disconnected from my heart and was pacing my stomach so it looked as if I had the hiccups at all times. The second time, I was shocked eight times in 45 minutes, so they had to replace a wire because it was a faulty lead therefore I did not need the shocks; it was double-counting my heart rate. The third and last time, when they had replaced the wire they gave too much "slack," which needs to be there so when you move, the leads don't rip out of your heart causing multiple blood clots to travel through an artery that the wire was pressing on and into my lungs. Ever since the multiple shocks, I have yet to find a doctor that is able to fix what they did to me. The multiple shocks caused my chest wall muscles to contract and they have yet to decompress three years later. No one can figure out how. Needless to say, I am happy to have lived, to get married and have another child, but I am devastated to have to tell my daughter I cannot play because "I have a headache" a.k.a. my chest pain is too severe.

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Comment from: 35-44 Female (Caregiver) Published: November 02

The most traumatic incident in my life was the death of my beloved sister at the age of 37. She had symptoms of chest discomfort on the day but EKG examination by her GP did not reveal any abnormality. There were no 'typical' symptoms of heart disease. So she was advised to go home and take a rest. That night my sister had a cardiac arrest and nobody could revive her. Autopsy was negative except for narrowing of right coronary artery ostium and lumen but no signs of Myocardial Infarction. It is assumed that she died of VF, pulmonary edema and brain anoxia. She had no previous history of heart disease and she was healthy and active always. The only clue I have now is that she had h/o hypertension during her pregnancy but became normotensive after delivery. She had an episode of herpes zoster (shingles) infection during her first pregnancy. She did not have any screening tests before as she was a young, active, non smoker and was not diabetic. Being a doctor I just can't forgive myself for not preventing her death. (I was not with her and the news of her death was the most shocking incident in my life).

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Comment from: BuckeyeFan93, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: August 17

My husband (age 55) collapsed at work with cardiac arrest. First responders gave CPR. When he got to the hospital he was non-responsive. He was revived, had stents put in, and placed in intensive care. He was in a coma for four days. He had oxygen depravation, and no one was sure how long he was out before CPR was started. He was taken off life support on the fourth day, and woke up the fifth day and said "hi" to the nurse. He had limited vocabulary and virtually no voluntary motor skills. When he was discharged to a nursing home after two weeks in the hospital, while he came a long way, he still could not function on his own and most times his conversation was gibberish. After 5 weeks in a nursing home with physical, occupational, and speech therapy, he was able to come home. He could dress himself, feed himself, and take care of his own personal hygiene. It is now 11 weeks since his heart attack, and he has completed physical and occupational therapy. He continues with speech therapy, but his memory is coming back, he knows he has lost some, is learning to read and write again, and can drive short distances. His speech is slurry at times, but he always makes sense. What happened to my husband is a miracle. There is no other explanation. He was a smoker all his life, but drank little. He had an active lifestyle and had no warning of heart problems. He did, however, avoid going to the doctor and practicing preventive medicine. His family doctor is very pleased with his progress and is amazed at his recovery in such a short time. Our families and I are still praying for a full recovery. What a roller coaster ride it was for me (his wife), especially the first two weeks; from going to giving his organs away and planning his funeral to having him at home now and functioning well and everything that happened in between. Sometimes when suffering comes to your door, you have to realize every person is different. The intensive care doctor, cardiologist, and neurologist all told me this, and they were right, although they were not very optimistic. I am sure hundred and hundreds of prayers contributed to his awakening and recovering so far -- and he's not done yet!

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Comment from: AnnieCat, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: July 15

My father died of cardiac arrest after years of small episodes where his heart was able to recapture a beat. He had little medical care by choice and was an alcoholic who quit smoking some 15 years before he died. He had a cardiac catheterization 10 days before he died and ignored the cardiologist's advice about not driving across the country. His medications were yet to be titrated appropriately when he died. At catheterization, it was discovered that he had what is called alcoholic cardiomyopathy although his liver was pristine. I was told that this can happen in people who are heavy drinkers; at the time, the cause and effect of this phenomenon was unknown. At any rate, alcoholic cardiomyopathy was the direct cause of my father's cardiac arrest at the age of just 67.

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