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CPR still saves lives in sudden cardiac arrest

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:05 am

It was immediately after a Zumba class warm-up that instructor Kim Edmonds came off stage and fell to the floor. She was in cardiac arrest. That was a year ago, come February 18.

“I was talking to two of my fellow Zumba instructors and basically, they said in mid-sentence, I stuck my hands out and I said, ‘Whoa,’ and basically collapsed to the ground,” Edmonds said.

She started having a seizure when she landed. Although she doesn’t remember anything about the incident, a nurse who was nearby was called into action.

“From what she said, she kind of stabilized me while I was having my seizure and once my seizure was over, she realized I didn’t have a pulse,” she said. “So they started CPR on me right away ... my heart stopped beating somewhere between five and 10 minutes; they aren’t exactly sure for how long.”

The facility being used at the time did not have an Automated Defibrillation Device, or AED, she said. AEDs are lightweight, battery-operated portable devices used on a person whose heart stops beating.

“Katy and another girl were doing CPR on me the whole time until the ambulance got there and then they took over,” she said.

Paramedics brought in an AED, and used sticky pads with attached sensors to send information about Edmond’s heart rhythm to find out if an electric shock is warranted.

“They did the shocks on me with the AED machine twice before they even got a pulse or a heartbeat,” Edmonds said.

CPR and the AED were vital to restoring her heart rhythm when every minute counts. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute states each minute of sudden cardiac arrest leads to a 10 percent reduction in survival.

Edmonds spent three days in a coma at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“They induced the coma; they cooled my body temperature down to preserve any brain activity,” Edmonds explained. After she woke up, it was seven days of intensive care.

“And then I found out I had to get a defibrillator just in case my heart went into an irregular beat pattern, which had happened before I had my cardiac arrest,” she said. Edmonds said she was transferred to Missouri Baptist Hospital for the surgery to implant the defibrillator.

The Zumba class Edmonds was planning to teach that fateful day was a fundraiser for the American Heart Association, an organization she had become involved with because of her personal heart history.

A few months prior, Edmonds underwent surgery to replace a heart valve due to aortic stenosis.  The aorta is the trunk of the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart all through the body except for the lungs.  In aortic stenosis, the aortic valve is unable to open fully, decreasing blood and oxygen flow from the heart.

Edmonds said she visited her cardiologist regularly; once or twice a year. A steady increase in her normally low blood pressure and the fact that she was getting fatigued much sooner while teaching exercise classes were signals that it was time to have her heart valve replaced.

Heart surgery was followed by three weeks of cardiac rehab. Edmonds said she felt great and her doctors said she wouldn’t need future surgeries for the valve issue. She was eager to start teaching the high-energy cardio-aerobic classes again.

As it turns out, Zumba didn’t cause the cardiac arrest, Edmonds said.

“They said that my surgery and my valve had nothing to do with my cardiac arrest, but that was the first thing that everyone was presuming,” Edmonds said, after EKGs and tests on the installed valve. “From what they said … probably by me having the surgery when I did could have been one of the reasons I made it out of the code situation when I had the cardiac arrest.  Because I had fixed my valve already, if I would have had the cardiac arrest and not the surgery, I may not have made it through – plus the fact that they started CPR right away.”

Jump ahead to February 1, 2013 and Edmonds is again teaching Zumba to raise awareness about heart disease for the American Heart Association.  The event was held at the O’Fallon Family YMCA, which does have an AED device on site. Although the location of last year’s event and life-changing incident did not have an AED at the time, it has since invested in one.

“As far as exercising and how I feel right now, I feel amazing,” Edmonds said. “I can’t complain.”

Although Edmonds life was saved by someone she didn’t know, data indicates the life you save by learning CPR will more than likely be a loved one. The AHA states four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home. Additionally, African-Americans are almost twice as likely to experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location than Caucasians, and their survival rates are twice as poor.

The AHA says bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult should dial 911 and provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest. Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths The AHA recommends its use by people who see a teen or an adult suddenly collapse in an “out-of-hospital” setting (such as at home, at work or in a park).

For demonstrations on how to perform hands-only CPR, visit

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