Lorinda Burleson

Age: 47
Save Date: 09/15/2007

On September 15, 2007, I had a sudden cardiac arrest. At the time, I was 47 years old, healthy, other than high blood pressure that I controlled with medication.

My husband and I were staying in a hotel room in Las Cruces, New Mexico. My husband was in a golf tournament that morning. He got up, got dressed and kissed me goodbye. I lingered in bed for a few minutes, then got up and began to get dressed as I planned to exercise in the hotel exercise facility. As I was getting dressed, I felt pressure in the middle of my chest. I began to walk around the room as I at first thought it may be indigestion. Several minutes passed and the pressure and pain worsened. I decided to grab my room keys and head down to the lobby where I knew there would be people around. I figured if I passed out, at least someone would call for help. The pain and pressure continued as I got the lobby where I asked someone at the front desk if I could get a ride to the hospital. A young man told me that he would bring the hotel van around the front entrance. Luckily, there was a hospital within 5 minutes from my hotel. The pain continued to worsen. We got to the hospital entrance where he dropped me off. I walked into the building which happened to be the wrong entrance. I was directed to walk out of the building to the next door which was the emergency room. There was a woman who was pregnant sitting in the waiting room as her husband signed her in. I sat on the chair in the waiting room for a minute. I decided I should interrupt and let them know that I thought I was having a heart attack. Within a minute or two, they called me to complete paper work which I must have signed in record time. The in-take person asked me to wait at another door where a nurse would come to get me. A nurse promptly showed up. She took me into an examining room. She began hooking me up to an EKG. I told her I needed to lie down as I felt I was going to pass out. My fingers felt numb. I did indeed pass out and when I came to, the nurse told me that I had had a heart attack. They took me into another room where they performed an angiogram. The angiogram showed that I did not have blockage in my arteries and that my heart looked healthy.

The doctors determined that I did not have a heart attack. I had a vasospasm which is an artery that collapses and does not allow blood to flow into the heart. When the artery opens, the blood gushes into the heart causing ventricular fibrillation which is an uncontrollably fast heart beat eventually causing the heart to stop pumping all together. I later found out while I was in the emergency room, my heart had stopped pumping. This is when I went into sudden cardiac arrest. They had to "jump start" my heart. To this day, after many tests, the doctors still do not know why this happened. Before I left the hospital, they implanted an ICD which will help my heart keep rhythm and/or will defibrillate my heart in the event that it stops again.

From the time I first experienced heart pain in the hotel to the time that my heart stopped was approximately ten to fifteen minutes. I now know that sudden cardiac arrest occurs in approximately 300,000 people per year. Out of the 300,000 people, only 5 % of them survive. I was one of 5% who survived sudden cardiac arrest. I was lucky to have been in a place where I received prompt defibrillation. The doctors and nurses at the hospital acted quickly and saved my life. I truly believe that God was with me that day and that it was just not my time to leave this earth.


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