Carolyn Whitehead

Save Date: 2002

Sudden Cardiac Death is unpredictable, striking anytime, anywhere, and no one is immune. Every few minutes or so this serial killer strikes down someone in the USA, as it did with Carolyn in 2002, but she was the lucky one in twenty that did not die. There was nothing wrong with Carolyn's heart, then or now, however she does suffer from a common and non-threatening condition.

Carolyn has had arrhythmias for over 20 years, mild and annoying irregularities in her heartbeat, sometimes as a result of strenuous exercise or periods of high emotion. The technical term is Premature Ventricular Contractions (but always called PVCs) and to her it felt like "a pause then thump" at the wrong time. No big deal, sometimes she put up with hundreds of them in a day, and never did they interfere with her quality of life.

That was not the case in October 2002. It was a ten million to one chance, a PVC landed at just the wrong time, it happened whilst she was sitting down, having just introduced herself to a large group of co-workers at a management seminar. She fainted and fell out of her chair, a big surprise to those around her. She had suffered a sudden cardiac death. Her heart was not pumping blood, she was not breathing, and her brain was not getting any oxygen.

Conference attendees began administering CPR until emergency services arrived with a LifePak-12 Automated External Defibrillator (AED) that delivered a life-saving jolt of electricity to return Carolyn's heart to a normal rhythm. As a result, Carolyn has been implanted with a device called an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) as protection against any future episode of SCA.

"I beat the odds in surviving my first episode of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and statistics show that I have a less than five percent chance of surviving another without an ICD. So I am someone who knows first-hand the value of my ICD. I am now protected should a life-threatening heart rhythm occur," says Carolyn.

Carolyn's husband Jeremy has written a book about the ordeal and the miracle of her survival called, "A Heart Too Good To Die" and will be published soon.


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