Four-time heart attack survivor grateful for CPR kit donation
Chris Ott, 60, credits CPR for saving his life the last time he had a heart attack — he’s survived four now.
Ott’s last heart attack occurred at the age of 58 while living on Anderson Island. He and his wife were returning from a walk by the water when he felt the symptoms, struggled to catch his breath and ultimately asked his wife to call 911.
He counts himself as fortunate that local volunteer EMTs were able to initiate defibrillation and save him while waiting for the medical evacuation helicopter.
So it’s fitting that Ott attended an event at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital this week for the donation of 190 American Heart Association CPR Anytime® cardiopulmonary resuscitation training kits.
As a survivor, he advocates strongly for the importance of CPR training.
“I can’t stress how important it is to learn CPR and to pass that information along to your family, because you never know who is going to need it or when,” he says.
Cardiac patients at Pulse Heart Institute will soon begin receiving the portable kits, funded by Abbott Construction of Seattle, with training from Pulse staff.
The CPR Anytime kit contains all the materials needed to learn the core skills of CPR in just 20 minutes, plus AED skills and choking relief. Students practice on a personal manikin while watching a DVD tutorial.
The kit can then be shared with family and friends, enabling learners to pass on lifesaving skills to loved ones.
“This is a huge opportunity for our patients,” says Shelley Schmitz, an exercise specialist with the Pulse Heart Institute Department of Preventive Cardiology. “It allows us to encourage them to participate and it helps to get the families involved as they move forward with their rehabilitation.”
Each year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States, most of them at home, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
“Keeping that heart pumping and the blood flow moving is a huge piece of that until the AED arrives,” Schmitz adds.
For Ott, it was CPR that allowed him to survive, and rehabilitation at MultiCare that put him on the road to recovery.
“Success came after I went to cardiac rehab here at MultiCare,” Ott says. “It was through that process that I gained the strength and confidence to push myself back to becoming physically fit.”
The avid whitewater rafting guide has lost nearly 50 pounds in the two years since his last heart attack, and has resumed the activities he loves.
How can I reduce my risk for a heart attack?
Even if you have heart disease, there’s a lot you can do to improve your heart’s health. Work with your health care provider to set goals to reduce your risk of heart attack.
• Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke
• Treat high blood pressure if you have it
• Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium (salt)
• Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week
• Reach and maintain a healthy weight
• Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
• See your doctor for regular check-ups
• Take your medicines exactly as prescribed
What are the warning signs of a heart attack?
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Here are some of the signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw or stomach
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
• Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
If you or someone you’re with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, immediately call 911 or the emergency medical services (EMS) in your area (fire department or ambulance). Get to a hospital right away.