Coming to a “Dead Stop”
By Pam Witt-Hillen, ThedaStar Flight nurse
October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Awareness Month. Nearly 300,000 people die every year from SCA and only 8 percent survive—yet through quality CPR, AEDs and communitywide approaches, many more can be saved. In addition, following evidence based Advanced Cardiac Lifesaving Skills (ACLS) by health professionals is imperative to positively impact survival statistics and good patient outcome.
Randy Kiel’s survival is one such story. On Aug. 13, this 61-year-old man collapsed suddenly while at the stock car races in Shawano. He was unconscious with no palpable pulse. When EMS arrived he was found to be in ventricular tachycardia (VT) that looked like a torsades. VT is an abnormal heart rhythm that is rapid and regular and can be life-threatening. It prevents the ventricles from filling adequately so the heart cannot pump normally. This results in loss of blood pressure and pulse, and can lead to a loss of consciousness and to one’s heart stopping altogether. Torsades can lead to sudden cardiac death unless the cause (low potassium, low magnesium, metabolic disorders, etc.) is treated immediately.
Randy was defibrillated in the field three times. After each shock, he came out of it breathing on his own and was alert. At ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano under the direction of the emergency physician, Dr. George Vidalakis, ED staff followed ACLS guidelines and had to defibrillate Randy five more times. ThedaStar was dispatched to transport Randy to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton’s cath lab for intervention by cardiologist Dr. Brian Guttormsen. Randy’s acute heart attack and arrhythmia was due to an acute 100 percent blocking of his right coronary artery. Promptly, he was successfully treated with a drug-eluding stent that reopened his artery. He suffered no neurological deficit and had only minimal heart damage. He and his wife are ever-grateful to be home resuming a normal life thanks to everyone’s expertise and timely collaboration! He will follow-up with a cardiologist in Sheboygan and comply with his recommended exercise program.
A life was saved because of everyone’s quick actions.