Carolyn Whitehead –Norwich, CT – 47 at the time of the event (October, 2002)
The nation’s #1 serial killer strikes every few minutes, and whilst not gruesome, the result is frightening carnage.
Carolyn Whitehead was the lucky one in 20 who did not die. There was nothing wrong with Carolyn’s heart, then or now, however she does suffer from a common and non-threatening condition.
Carolyn has had arrhythmias for over 20 years, mild and annoying irregularities in her heartbeat, sometimes as a result of strenuous exercise or periods of high emotion. The technical term is Premature Ventricular Contractions (but always called PVCs) and to her it felt like “a pause then thump” at the wrong time. No big deal, sometimes she put up with hundreds of them in a day, and never did they interfere with her quality of life.
That was not the case in October 2002. It was a ten million to one chance, supposedly a PVC landed at just the wrong time. It happened whilst she was sitting down, having just introduced herself to a large group of co-workers at a management seminar. She fainted and fell out of her chair, a big surprise to those around her.
She had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Her heart was not pumping blood, she was not breathing, and her brain was not getting any oxygen. She was clinically dead.
Conference attendees began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until the emergency services arrived with an automated external defibrillator (AED) that delivered a life-saving jolt of electricity to return Carolyn’s heart to a normal rhythm. As a result, Carolyn has been implanted with a device called an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) as protection against any future SCA episode.
“I beat the odds in surviving my first episode of sudden cardiac arrest, and statistics show that I have a less than 5% chance of surviving another without an ICD. So I am someone who knows first-hand the value of my ICD. I am now protected should a life-threatening heart rhythm occur,” says Carolyn.
Carolyn’s husband Jeremy has written a book about the ordeal and the miracle of her survival. A Heart Too Good To Die was published in 2008. See www.heart2good.com.
- Jeremy Whitehead