Posted by mnewman on 08/01/2008

One of my best friends called a few weeks ago and asked, “So how is Tim Russert’s case affecting you and the foundation’s efforts to raise awareness about saving lives?”

I told her that despite the very tragic news of his sudden death, the good news is that people are talking about heart attacks and other causes of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). We spoke about how much media coverage there has been on the topic. 

Then she said something that caught me completely off-guard. “So, do you want to know how it is affecting me?” "Sure," I said, wondering where this was going.

“It hit me that I am the same age as Tim was, and I also passed a stress test recently. But I’ve had these funny feelings of discomfort in my chest that seem to come and go. Sometimes I get them when I am trying to sleep. Just resting—not when I am exercising. And I’ve had high blood pressure for some time now. And I just found out I have diabetes. And you know my family has had a lot of heart problems. And so I am going to get this thing checked out.”

What? I could not believe what I was hearing. I felt very much like the shoemaker, whose children have no shoes. My friend is a well-read university faculty member. Yet she, and so many others, did not recognize or could not accept the indications that she could be at risk for a heart attack that could lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

Earlier today, my friend had a cardiac catheterization and they found she had a blocked artery. They inserted a stent to bypass the blockage and allow the blood to flow properly once again. She will be home from the hospital tomorrow. In a few weeks she will be evaluated again.

And I thank God and Mr. Russert for saving her life.

How is Tim Russert’s case affecting you?