Debra Koziol experienced a rapid cardiac arrest due to a congenital abnormality in her heart. She was saved by her husband's CPR training and a lifetime of heart health maintenance.
Debra had worked tirelessly to maintain her health. She kept a strict diet and regularly exercised.
Her heart would periodically miss a beat as a result of a problem called mitral valve prolapse, which had been identified in her 20s. Her physicians stated she didn't need to worry about her MVP.
Debra was reading a book to her grandson on the couch in August 2006 when her husband noticed her suddenly fall down. He immediately dialed 911 and started performing CPR because her eyes were open and fixed.
Debra wasn't breathing on her own when the paramedics came, so they intubated her and placed her on a machine that delivered compressions. She was at risk for brain damage since she was unable to breathe on her own for more than 30 minutes.
Debra, who was 47, had a cardiac arrest that happened suddenly. That is a syndrome where the heart unexpectedly stops beating, cutting off the blood supply to the brain and other important organs. On the way to the hospital, she received six shocks from an automatic external defibrillator to get her heart pumping again.
Her survival the first night was in doubt, so physicians at the hospital put her into an induced coma to give her heart a chance to rest.
Debra started to awaken from her coma after three days. It took her two weeks to regain her strength so that she could undergo open heart surgery to fix the leaking mitral valve that had put strain on her heart. She had to wait two months for surgery to install a cardioverter defibrillator, a machine that would shock her heart if it ever stopped again, due to problems.
Debra took part in cardiac rehab following her recovery and learned more about her condition and how to maintain a healthy heart.
She had always made an effort to live a healthy lifestyle, but now she works out more frequently. She has also made significant dietary modifications, cutting back on carbohydrates and saturated fats.
Debra's ailment does not now limit her, but she is closely monitored by a cardiologist. Her heart is somewhat enlarged in one area, and all four of her heart valves leak.
According to Debra's doctor, her prompt response from her husband and her good health at the time was essential to her survival.
“My doctor told me that I may not have even survived the CPR if my heart hadn’t been as strong as it was,” she said.
Debra, who is now 54, is a fervent supporter of CPR instruction. Through the American Heart Association, she tells her story and encourages others to pursue the training.
Before Debra's abrupt cardiac arrest, her illness had never given her any signs. She underlines the value of maintaining heart health since it will enable you to handle emergencies better.
Your heart needs to be strong to handle whatever you're facing, Debra said, adding that it could not be heart disease. “I tell women, ‘Hopefully you’ll never be the one in the ambulance, but if you are, how strong do you want your heart to be? ’”