Donations Bring Life Back to Cardiac Arrest Patient

By Christine Mack, Development Officer

When Shelly Heston is asked about the first week in October, she can’t tell you much about it – and with good reason, because she suffered cardiac arrest at home on October 2 and didn’t wake up until October 10. Shelly survived those eight days and the many since then, in part, because of the generosity of donors to The Foundation for Firelands Heart Fund, who provided Shelly with a life saving device called LifeVest™.

The 51 year old mother went to bed on October 1 and was found unresponsive in bed by her daughter the next day. She had no symptoms of a heart attack or other medical emergency. Her only warning was her heart health history. Shelly had a heart attack in 2009, but hadn’t had an event in eight years. Emergency Medical Services brought her to Firelands Regional Medical Center by ambulance, where she was treated in the Emergency Room before moving to the Intensive Care Unit.

“I don’t remember anything from the night before it happened, until I came off the ventilator eight days later,” she says, “It is very scary to have no recollection of that much time.”

signs of cardiac arrest in women

Upon regaining consciousness, the physicians and care team determined that Shelly needed a defibrillator to prevent another onset of sudden cardiac arrest.

“After a large heart attack, 1 in 36 people will experience a post-heart attack sudden death event within the first month,” explained Scott Sheldon, DO, Cardiologist with North Ohio Heart Center. “The LifeVest is prophalactively the best treatment for preventing sudden death in these patients in the first month. After forty days, per medical guidelines and Medicare requirements, we can then put in an automatic implantable cardiac defibrillator.”

Unfortunately, Shelly’s insurance did not cover the external device she needed to have before leaving Firelands to return home. That’s when donations to The Foundation for Firelands Heart Fund made a difference for Shelly. Because of you, Shelly was able to obtain the essential LifeVest™. This external wearable defibrillator would restart Shelly’s heart in the event that she went into arrest again.

Dr. Sheldon expresses this sentiment. “[The care team] is extremely grateful for donors to The Foundation for Firelands Heart Fund for providing this potentially life-saving technology to our patients at a vulnerable time in their lives.”

Shelly appreciates the support because it has helped her return to her life.

“I’m feeling much better and I feel safer wearing the LifeVest™,” she says gratefully. “Every day, I get a little bit stronger.”

Educate Yourself on the Common Signs of Heart Attack in Women

For some individuals, signs of a heart attack in women can be confused with signs of the flu or other illness. If you experience any of the below symptoms according to the American Heart Association, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

  • The most common heart attack sign in women is uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or pressure in the center of the chest that may last more than a few minutes, or go away and come back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, jaw, back, neck, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat with nausea or lightheadedness.