Juddson Rupp's Story

Juddson Rupp's Story

It started like any other day, but I decided to exercise first thing that
 Thursday morning. At 7 a.m., my heart stopped pumping blood while I was
exercising at the YMCA, and I nearly died. Before my heart went into
 ventricular fibrillation, I was the picture of health. Although I had a
pre-existing heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or
"Athlete's Heart," I had never been on any medication. I was always active
in the gym and played football throughout my youth and then at the
University of Virginia.

My enlarged heart had been diagnosed when I was 25 years old - a decade
before the cardiac arrest. Doctors told me that, due to genetics, my heart
had grown to become a little larger than normal, and my athletic activities
hadn't helped. I was a ticking time bomb, but there was not enough research
or case studies for my cardiologists to know it. Even the full run-up of
tests that I received after two incidents of fainting while exercising
within a 6-month window of my near fatal cardiac arrest in 2000 was not
enough for my prognosis to be changed by the doctors.

You may say that I am very lucky, but it was much more than luck. It was a
miracle that I survived. I was resuscitated by a Good Samaritan. A local 
physician was working out on the same floor and came to my rescue by 
performing CPR on me and using an AED, which the YMCA had just purchased
 with funds they had raised.

Rupp and his wife

Medics arrived almost simultaneously and continued the saving process
while rushing me to the hospital. My heart stopped two more times in the

The North Carolina General Assembly had just passed the Good Samaritan Act
earlier in the month protecting people who performed life-saving acts. I
have no memory of the event or the fact that I thought Richard Nixon was
 still the president when I awoke. After my week's stay at Carolinas Medical
Center, where doctors implanted an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
(ICD), I returned home and eventually to my regular lifestyle. It wasn't
until I returned to my advertising sales job at WSOC-TV that I realized how
blessed I was, and how close to death I really came.

Originally, I thought either October 26 was a slow news day, or surviving
a near fatal cardiac arrest must be very significant news. More than that
was the way so many positive things fell into place. When friends at the
station made a tape for me of the 6:00 p.m. Eyewitness News from that night
and I saw our reporter and anchors discussing my story and providing well
wishes, I welled up and realized how I almost became a statistic.

At first, I was hesitant to make my story public. When the American Heart
Association called and said I could help save many lives using my story, it
was an easy decision. My cardiac arrest gave me a new outlook on life and
inspired me to give back and fight to prevent this from happening to others
- especially my own children. I am honored to have served as a spokesman,
with my family, on television commercials for the American Heart
Association's Learning CPR. I have also been an Advocate for AHA, lobbying
our members of Congress each year on Heart and Stroke legislative
priorities. If my story raises awareness about the No. 1 killer in the
world– heart disease - while encouraging people to visit their
cardiologist and also learn CPR, then I feel obliged to share it.
Hopefully, we can take an ounce of prevention, and make a pound of cure.

Mission & Vision

The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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