Mark Allen was in the best health of his life at the age of 47. His objective of competing in 50 competitions before turning 50 was certainly within reach.
He would hit No. 21 on that day. The event, which took place in Augusta, Georgia, was called an Ironman 70.3 because participants would swim, ride, and run a total of 70.3 miles. It would be his fourth half-Ironman race, also known as a triathlon.
All he had to do was survive the swim. Swimming was never Mark's thing. But he was extremely anxious this time. He had ventured outside the previous evening to see the Savannah River in order to assess his situation. He told Tanya, his future wife-to-be, before going to bed, "My heart is beating out of my chest. Every time I close my eyes, all I see is water."
Tanya was thrilled to be participating in her first half-Ironman. Before him, she slid into the water. After pausing, he dove in headfirst. Tanya, a capable swimmer, made rapid progress. Mark was still at the starting line when she turned around, holding to a kayak that race spotters were using to assist the swimmers. She swam back to check on him out of worry. He encouraged her to continue the race.
They heard from witnesses what transpired after that. Mark climbed into the kayak after raising himself out of the water. His heart eventually stopped, and he passed out. He had suffered a heart attack.
CPR was started inside the kayak by the observer and another competitor who had dropped out. Someone made an assistance call during the mayhem. When medical personnel arrived, they used an automatic external defibrillator to try to restart his heart before rushing him to the hospital.
Fortunately, the race crew and the observer are BLS AED CPR certified and were able to handle the situation as they were trained to do. There were no reports if the crew or the observer being medically trained but usually people who don’t or have little medical training can learn life-saving skills by attending Heartsaver CPR training, or the Heartsaver First Aid CPR training. These skills can really save lives.
For more than 40 minutes, doctors attempted to shock Mark's heart back to life. He was at significant risk of complications, including brain damage from lack of oxygen, after going that long without a stable heartbeat. They shocked his heart five times, and each time it beat briefly before stopping. Still, they gave it another shot because of his general fitness. The sixth and last shock brought back a consistent beat.
The brain is harmed by oxygen deprivation in just four minutes. Anoxic brain damage is what is implied by this. It was obvious that Mark's brain had been injured when he awoke.
He was speechless. He was immobile. He was unable to eat. The disease that makes the walls of the heart chamber thicker than normal and lowers the amount of blood the heart can pump, is what caused Mark's heart to fail. It is the most frequent cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people and athletes, despite being unusual.
Mark had a defibrillator put in his chest by doctors to regulate his heartbeat. After a few weeks, they sent him to a Philadelphia recovery facility. He will remain there for a month, they informed his family.
He left on his own two feet after two weeks.
Three years ago, that happened. Speaking is still a challenge for Mark today. However, exercise is not. He's been back at the gym in Newark, Delaware, where he developed the level of physical fitness that, according to physicians, saved his life ever since he was given the all-clear to start working out again a year ago. He and Samantha Mitchell, who own the gym, helped him train before his heart attack and are now assisting him in regaining as much physical fitness as he can.
He left on his own two feet after two weeks.
Three years ago, that happened. Speaking is still a challenge for Mark today. However, exercise is not. He's been back at the gym in Newark, Delaware, where he developed the level of physical fitness that, according to physicians, saved his life, ever since he was given the all-clear to start working out again a year ago. He and Samantha Mitchell, who owns the gym, helped him train before his heart attack and are now assisting him in regaining as much physical fitness as he can.
Additionally, Mark is back at work as the chief financial officer of a charter school in Philadelphia. Even so, he drives himself every day. "It gives me a sense of normalcy," he remarked. And although Mark's rehabilitation caused them to postpone their wedding date, they were ultimately able to exchange vows on July 14, 2021, which was also their three-year anniversary of meeting.
Healthforce Training Center offers BLS training with certification near Newark, Delaware. You can check out the life-saving courses below.
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