Share, , Google Plus, Pinterest,


Posted in:

The Importance of CPR – The Brennan Story

After a long search in her Morgan Hill neighborhood, Alicia Brennan, 44, spotted the man mowing the lawn. “It’s him!” she thought to herself. She did not know his name, but she was on a mission. “Thanks for helping me save my husband’s life!” she said hugging him and handing over a basket of goodies.

A few weeks earlier, Alicia’s husband, Jacob, 43, announced he was going for a jog. He normally ran alone, but this time Alicia decided to join him and walk their dogs while their three teenagers stayed at home. After jogging a few miles, Jacob became very tired. They decided to turn back toward home. Alicia thought she saw Jacob trip as he walked ahead of her. He suddenly collapsed and landed on the sidewalk face down. Jacob was bleeding heavily – it turned out he had broken his nose – and he was not responding.

During the next few minutes Alicia was able to remain calm: she called 911, got help from a passerby and his teenaged daughter, and started performing CPR compressions. Another neighbor approached them and took over the CPR compressions as Alicia increasingly panicked. She was terrified. When the paramedics arrived they lead her away before applying the AED that got Jacob’s pulse back.

Doctors later told them that plaque had ruptured and clogged Jacob’s artery. He was having the type of heart attack also known as “the widow maker.” During the first 24 hours after the cardiac incident, doctors did not know the extent of Jacob’s neurological damage, but because Alicia performed CPR so quickly, she not only saved his life, the damage cause by the lack of oxygen travelling to the brain was greatly diminished.

Monday, March 9, Alicia was presented with the Heartsaver Hero Award at the Temecula Valley Hospital Board of Governors meeting. Given by the American Heart Association, it recognizes individuals who have successfully utilized CPR to raise public awareness about the importance of this lifesaving technique.

Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States, and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. If someone is trained to perform CPR, the lives they can save will most likely be a loved one. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander, according to the American Heart Association.

Alicia now calls Jacob “the miracle man.” He dislikes the term, but only a month after the incident, his life is almost back to normal except for a stent in his heart, a new sense of mortality, and lots of new medicines. Alicia cannot decide which of the events contributed most to their good fortune that day; the help they received from total strangers or the recent opening nearby of Temecula Valley Hospital that specializes in cardiac care. However, getting her CPR recertification for her job as a soccer coach just a week and a half earlier is at the top on her list of “miracles.”

“I will never ever complain about retraining for CPR again! You never know whose life you can save. It was so fresh in my mind, I did it right away. The men who helped me also knew a little bit about CPR,” said Alicia.

Jacob has learned his condition is genetic and not really related to his lifestyle, a fact that he shares those around him. “I am now the heart ambassador for my family and friends. They could not believe someone like me, active and not obese, would suffer a heart attack. All of my family is getting checked out, and it has been a wakeup call for my friends.”

Today Jacob reads all the nutrition labels of the food he eats and is especially aware of his intake of sodium and fats. He is also aware that, with the help of strangers, his wife’s knowledge of CPR saved his life. “She reminds me enough times!” he jokes.