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An actress and musician’s near-death experience stories are a reminder to learn how to save lives

Actress and musician story is a reminder to learn CPR
Actress and musician story is a reminder to learn CPR

Ilisa Juried, an actress and musician, had her heart stop in Grand Central Station in New York City three years before her appearance on the reality series Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious on The CW.

When they came across a group of hip-hop dancers dancing at the railway station while the then-18-year-old was sightseeing with her mother, Juried asked to join in. Juried was lured in by the lead dancer, and a little while after she passed out,

A nurse from Michigan who was on vacation rushed to Juried's side and began performing CPR. When paramedics finally arrived 30 minutes later, they shocked Juried's heart back into a regular rhythm using an automatic external defibrillator, or AED.

The Florida native spent six weeks in a hospital in New York City, where physicians eventually determined that she had long QT syndrome, an electrical issue with the heart that can result in a rapid, erratic heartbeat. The family of Juried thinks the disease, which is frequently inherited, may have contributed to her father's cardiac arrest at age 45.

To shock her heart back to its regular beat should a life-threatening rhythm ever arise, surgeons inserted a cardioverter defibrillator, also known as an ICD, while she was still in the hospital.

Three times, the device shocked her heart.

She explained, "I always pass out immediately before it happens, so I don't remember any of it."

After getting better, Juried reduced her dancing and concentrated more on her passions for acting and music. She has participated in numerous advertisements over the past ten years and just recently released the jazz CD Making History.

She takes medication to help control her erratic heartbeat and exercises carefully. She also works as a volunteer for the American Heart Association, telling her story and promoting CPR at community events.

Juried, who stays in touch with Scholten via Facebook, claimed that CPR was the only thing that prevented brain damage and kept her alive.

According to AHA statistics, about 40 people have cardiac arrests every hour while outside of a hospital, and nine out of ten of them do not survive. But having bystander CPR can increase the victim's odds of survival by a factor of two or even three.

Juried was a teenager and a babysitter when she first learned CPR.

Everyone must be trained to do CPR, she said. "Learning simple procedures really can save someone's life."

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