Living Proof of the Importance of CPR and Defibrillation
Many factors can determine a person’s outcome after suffering a heart-related medical event – age, family history, and of course, the severity and type of heart event that occurs. But for Dan Steinbrenner, it was where he went into cardiac arrest, and who saw it happen, that made all the difference.
On Oct. 27, 2017, Dan was working in the maintenance department at Lutheran Home at Concord Reserve in Westlake, just as he had for the past nine years. As the 62-year-old Parma resident walked down one of the hallways in the senior living community pushing his maintenance cart, he began to feel dizzy. When dizziness progressed to labored breathing, he sat in a chair to catch his breath. Less than two minutes later, Dan was on the floor of the hallway, gasping for air, and soon he passed out. Later tests confirmed that Dan had experienced ventricular fibrillation (V-fib) – the deadliest of all heart rhythm disorders.
As luck would have it, in a conference room in the same hall where Dan collapsed, several nurses from Lutheran Home at Concord Reserve were gathered, and they witnessed Dan’s distress. Immediately the nurses began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart back into rhythm while paramedics were en route.
Dan was transported to University Hospitals St. John Medical Center and rushed into the heart catheterization lab. There, cardiologists determined that Dan’s arteries were so severely blocked that placing stents in the arteries would not correct the issue.
“This was not a stentable problem,” says University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute interventional cardiologist John Coletta, MD. “While in the cath lab, we determined that Dan’s best option was surgical.”
Dan’s left anterior descending artery (LAD) was 90 percent blocked, his left coronary artery was 50 percent blocked, and his right coronary artery was 100 percent blocked. “In fact, we saw evidence of collateralization in Dan’s heart,” says Dr. Coletta. “Because his arteries had extensive blockages, his body’s response was to begin forming tiny arteries to try to keep the blood flowing.”
On Nov. 1, Dan underwent triple bypass surgery at UH St. John Medical Center, performed by UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute cardiothoracic surgeon Salil Deo, MD. During the procedure, Dr. Deo extracted portions of two veins from Dan’s leg, along with an artery from his chest wall, and placed them within his heart to bypass the clogged arteries and restore blood flow.
Since his surgery, Dan has participated in several cardiac rehab sessions and is recovering well. In fact, Dr. Coletta approved his return to work at Lutheran Home at Concord Reserve effective Jan. 22.
“The nurses who saw Dan drop to the floor that day are the true heroes of this story,” says Dr. Coletta. “If he had chosen a different hallway, or went into cardiac arrest in the parking lot, he likely would not have survived.” Dr. Coletta continued, saying, “The nurses who performed CPR and defibrillated his heart saved his life. Dan is living proof of the importance of knowing these life-saving techniques.”
If a loved one or colleague went into cardiac arrest, would you have the knowledge and skills to help save their life? The American Heart Association offers basic lifesaving courses for health care professionals as well as the general public.