Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in America, but it is an event that is survivable. Here’s a Life-Stat® Success Story; last week I had the pleasure of going down to Greensboro North Carolina to talk with Julia Sims and her family about her true, complete recovery.
Just Another Day
Julia Sims has experienced a perfect day. On March 19, 2011, she suffered a massive cardiac arrest, months in the making. It came as a complete surprise even after an EKG/Stress test and a professional cardiologist consultation one month prior. A perfect combination of first-responder manual CPR, AED defibrillation, mechanical CPR, and modern rescue techniques helped her to survive the incident, but not without 12 field defibrillations and 45 minutes of uninterrupted mechanical CPR. “It really was a perfect day,” remarks Julia at an award ceremony honoring her rescuers. “By the grace of God I came through.”
The heart attack was preceded by vomiting, indigestion, intense back and shoulder pain, exhaustion, and more.
- “I had had the symptoms for months.”
- “I tried every home remedy I could find.”
- “After two doctors told me I was fine I stopped worrying.”
The Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest in Women
Julia walked away from the experience intact and on a mission. She had not previously been aware of the classic symptoms of impending cardiac arrest in women. Today her goal is to educate others in this situation. Imagine you are having a heart attack. Most of your minds will jump immediately to a sharp pressure, perhaps even a pain in your left arm, heaviness in the chest, a feeling of extreme exhaustion, etc. These are the classic symptoms that arise in men. Julia’s previously mentioned symptoms (pressure/pain in the upper back, exhaustion, insomnia, vomiting, etc.) are equally as classic in women, but seldom mentioned in standard health education courses or talked about in day to day life.
Most people would not recognize these as being the symptoms of a heart attack. In truth, not even Julia’s family recognized them. After multiple health consultations, they believed it to be a simple case of the flu and continued to go on about their daily lives.
Fortunately, when Julia’s arrest hit her husband and daughter were in the room and their response was immediate. Jeff (her husband) dialed 911 and was instructed on how to deliver CPR. Brett Sims (Julia’s Daughter) assisted. An ambulance unit arrived on the scene four minutes later.
According to the AHA, about 8% of cardiac arrest victims survive. It is even rarer for someone to survive without any adverse effects. The EMS in Greensboro proudly holds a save rate high above the national average. Julia believes that her outcome is due largely to their competence and knowledge. When she says that deaths caused by cardiac arrest could be further reduced by educating people about the symptoms that lead to heart attacks I am inclined to agree with her.
Keep your eyes peeled for a more in-depth report on Julia and her mission in our October newsletter. You can sign up for our newsletter by joining our mailing list below!