Category Archives: Cardiac Arrest

Can Energy Drinks Cause Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Are Energy Drinks Worth the Health Risks?

According to a recent Global Energy Drink Market Analysis, the market size for these popular beverages is expected to reach a whopping $72 billion by 2024 and is rising at an incredible market growth rate of 7.1%.

Energy drinks are big business. But are they really good for you?

While consumers are endorsing them with their dollars, physicians around the globe are calling for more research into the safety of the drinks and the World Health Organization warns that “Increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people.”

Last year the Washington Post reported that a South Carolina high school student collapsed and died after drinking a latte, a Mountain Dew, and an energy drink. “His sudden death may have remained a medical mystery, the coroner who conducted his autopsy said, if friends hadn’t described what Davis ingested during lunch: Enough caffeine to disrupt and ultimately stop his heart.”

What Are Energy Drinks?

We all probably know someone who relies on the heart-pounding wallop that guzzling an energy drink can provide, but what’s in them? And are they safe? Energy drinks (EDs) are commonly used as a dietary supplement by young adolescents and adults to boost physical performance or enhance concentration. For some, the number of “Monsters” or “Red Bulls” consumed serves as an indication of just how hard they’ve studied or how much they’ve been working.

Most EDs contain a variety of ingredients, but pharmaceutical-grade caffeine and additional caffeine from other natural sources is often the primary stimulant. By way of comparison, some energy drinks contain up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per can or bottle, compared to 100-150 mg in a typical cup of coffee.

Other components commonly found in these drinks include guarana, yerba mate, taurine, theophylline, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, vitamins, and L-carnitine. The long-term health effects of these additives are not well-documented.

Like caffeine, however, these additional ingredients are also believed to increase one’s energy and stimulate mental performance. Both guarana and yerba mate are natural sources of caffeine, making the total amount of caffeine in an ED hard to determine. Because of this, the actual amount of caffeine contained in an ED may not be accurately reflected on its label, making it difficult for consumers to understand how much of the stimulant they’re actually ingesting.

What are the Adverse Side-Effects of Energy Drinks?

In 2017, US News and World Report noted that in 2016 there were more than 20,000 emergency room visits attributed to the ingestion of energy drinks. And, because the drinks are often marketed to younger consumers, some 1,145 Americans ages 12 to 17 were admitted to emergency rooms for energy drink-related health emergencies in 2007. That number climbed to 1,499 in 2011 (Centers for Disease Control).

Although most healthy adults can enjoy the occasional energy drink without harm, possible side effects of consuming EDs include: elevated blood pressure, dehydration, insomnia, anxiety, increased heart rate, increased corrected QT interval, supraventricular arrhythmia, ventricular arrhythmia, coronary artery spasm, coronary artery thrombosis, aortic dissection, and sudden cardiac death.

Recent research shows just one energy drink can affect blood vessel function (Science Daily). Other studies have shown that caffeine-and-herbal combinations can increase stress hormones and are linked to changes in blood pressure and the heart’s electrical activity.

Potential long-term, chronic effects may include hypertensive heart disease, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral arterial disease.

“Energy drinks are frequently consumed by young athletes and there are reports of morbidity and mortality associated with consumption. In particular, susceptible individuals include younger, smaller, caffeine-naïve/sensitive, pregnant or breastfeeding women and those with underlying medical conditions. While most healthy adults can consume a single energy drink without any significant negative acute health effects, the long-term effects of chronic consumption have not been well studied” (American College of Cardiology).

What are Some Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks?

Not only are EDs packed with unhealthy levels of caffeine, but they’re also loaded with sugar. You may have noticed that we’re on a health kick around here, so be sure to check out our heart-healthy posts including 5 Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease, The Great American Smokeout, and  How Obesity Plays a Role in Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People.

In the meantime, here are a few healthy alternatives to energy drinks for you to incorporate into your diet and lifestyle to help ensure that your body is working at its best:

  • Protein: Put down the can and step away from the sugar and caffeine! Healthy, lean proteins can help keep our bodies alert and encourage our bodies to burn calories.
  • Dark chocolate: An ounce or two of dark chocolate contains just enough caffeine and flavonoids to give your brain a boost.
  • Water: Ditch the ED and grab a glass of water. If you need a little kick, squeeze in a slice or two of lemon.
  • Exercise: Take a quick break from your studies and your deadlines and run around the block or jog in place. It’s the perfect way to get the blood flowing.
  • Green Tea: If you’re still craving a jolt of caffeine, green tea is the way to go. All the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can’t hurt, either!
  • Green Juices or Smoothies: Dark green veggies such as spinach, kale, and parsley are full of B vitamins that our metabolism needs to run at full steam.

For information about purchasing a new or recertified AED for your home or workplace, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

How Obesity Plays a Deadly Role in Cardiac Arrest Among Young People

The Good News? Early Screening for Cardiovascular Risk Factors Can Save Lives.


We all know that being overweight or obese is bad for your health, but did you know the extent to which obesity and other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol are linked to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in young people between the ages of five and 34?

A recent study conducted by Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, medical director of Cedars-Sinai’s Heart Rhythm Center in Los Angeles and a leader in sudden cardiac death research, found that easily identifiable cardiovascular risk factors were common in young people who suffer from cardiac arrest.

First, a quick word about SCA. Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when one or more coronary artery becomes blocked, SCA occurs when the heart stops beating, stopping the flow of blood to the brain and to other vital organs. SCA often occurs abruptly and without warning. If the heartbeat is not restored with an electrical shock, death follows within minutes. In fact, SCA accounts for more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Cardiac arrest claims one life every 90 seconds and accounts for more deaths than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined (Heart Rhythm Society).

Obesity can significantly increase the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and all three of these conditions are closely connected with heart disease. In fact, Science Daily reports that being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by up to 28% compared to those with a healthy body weight, even if they have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels!

We recently investigated What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People and found that although causes of SCA in children and young adults vary, death is often a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis caused by athletic activity. However, researchers at Cedars-Sinai have discovered that obesity and other common (and often preventable) cardiovascular risk factors may play a much greater role in SCA in children and younger people than previously known.

Obesity, Other Risks Play Large Role in Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among the Young,” an article published by the hospital about Dr. Chugh’s study, notes that “Combinations of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking were found in nearly 60 percent of cases studied. The findings shed light on a public health problem among the young that has remained largely unsolved.”

“One of the revelations of this study is that risk factors such as obesity may play a much larger role for the young people who die from sudden cardiac arrest than previously known,” said Dr. Chugh.

The comprehensive 16-hospital, multiyear assessment was conducted as part of the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study.  The study was partially funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Routine Preventative Visits May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

In the article, Dr. Chugh suggests extending prevention efforts (such as offering resources for smoking cessation programs, sharing exercise guidelines, and tips for healthy eating) to include routine preventive screenings for children and young adults. This addition could help reduce cardiovascular risk.

“The added benefit of such screenings is that early efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk are known to translate into reduction of adult cardiovascular disease,” he said.

These visits, typically covered at no charge by health insurance providers (healthcare.gov), usually include screenings, checkups, and counseling. The goal of these visits is to help prevent health problems before a young person at risk for sudden cardiac arrest experiences any symptoms. By reducing known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we may simultaneously lower the number of deaths caused by cardiac arrest.

We hope you’ll visit our blog in the coming weeks for more information on smoking cessation and for strategies to prevent heart disease. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about purchasing a new or recertified AED for your home or workplace, or you’d like to schedule AED training or maintenance, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

What Causes Sudden Death in Young People?

These 4 Heart Problems Are Often Blamed for Sudden Death in Young People

Although thankfully very rare, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims the lives of an estimated 6,000-8,000 individuals under the age of 35 each year (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation).  While a vast majority of the more than 356,000 cardiac arrests that are recorded each year occur in adults over the age of 35 who suffer from coronary artery disease, these numbers are still something to be concerned about. The Mayo Clinic estimates that perhaps 1 in every 50,000 SCA deaths a year occurs in young athletes.

While it’s uncommon, and millions of elementary, high school, and collegiate athletes compete each year without incident, SCA can happen at any time and to anyone. If you think that you or your child might be at risk of sudden death, be sure to talk to your doctor about precautions you can take.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People?

Causes of SCA in children and young adults vary; however, most often death is a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Typically an inherited condition, HCM causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge and which then causes the walls of the ventricle (usually the left ventricle) to thicken. This may block the blood flow out of the ventricle — if this occurs, it’s called obstructive HCM.

Non-obstructive HCM, according to the American Heart Association, “can affect the heart’s mitral valve, causing blood to leak backward through the valve. Sometimes, the thickened heart muscle doesn’t block blood flow out of the left ventricle. This is referred to as non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The entire ventricle may thicken, or the thickening may happen only at the bottom of the heart. The right ventricle also may be affected.”

HCM is very common and affects men and women equally. Often, people who have HCM experience no warning signs or symptoms. Others may experience shortness of breath ordisruptions to the heart’s electrical system which can lead to fast or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and may result in SCA. Although usually not fatal, HCM it often goes undetected and is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30.

Congenital Coronary Artery Abnormalities

Occasionally people are born with unusual or abnormal heart arteries. If this occurs, arteries may become compressed during exercise and not provide adequate blood flow to the heart.

Long QT Syndrome

Long QT syndrome, caused by abnormalities of proteins in the heart, is also an inherited heart rhythm disorder that may lead to fainting and can cause life-threatening arrhythmias. People with long QT syndrome are at an increased risk for suffering from cardiac arrest. Nearly half of the individuals with long QT never exhibit a symptom of the abnormality. Although there is no cure, medication may help (SADS Foundation).

Commotio Cordis

We discussed commotio cordis at length in March, but in a nutshell, this rare cause of sudden cardiac death can occur in anyone. Because it occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest, which can cause ventricular fibrillation, athletes are especially susceptible. The average age of athletes who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is just 17 and more than two-thirds of young athletes who die suddenly are basketball and football players. Baseball, softball, hockey, and lacrosse players, however, are also especially susceptible to commotio cordis.

What are the Warning Signs of Heart Problems in Young People?

Unfortunately, sudden cardiac death often occurs with no warning or indication. However, if you or your child experience dizziness or unexplained fainting during physical activity, it could be an indication that the heart isn’t working properly.  Likewise, if you or your child experience shortness of breath or chest pain, speak to your doctor immediately!

Finally, if there’s a family history of sudden cardiac death or unexplained deaths before the age of 50, you may want to discuss cardiac screening options with your physician.

Cardio Partners offers CPR, first aid, and AED training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to equip your facilities with an AED, call our team at 866-349-4362, visit aed.com or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com. We’d love to hear from you!

The Importance of AEDs in Schools

10 Facts About Automated External Defibrillators in Schools

With students across the country settling in for another year of learning, now is the perfect time to discuss the importance of AEDs in schools. Last week we covered the differences in adult, child, and infant CPR as well as the pediatric chain of survival and this week we’ll cover some interesting facts and statistics about AEDs in schools.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly. Often, this is caused by ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF is an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system, and when this occurs blood stops pumping to the brain, heart, and the rest of your vital organs. Bystanders who promptly begin CPR and defibrillation can keep oxygenated blood flowing throughout the body and preserve life.

Although sudden cardiac death (SCD) is shocking and leaves its mark on survivors, regardless of the age of the victim, it’s particularly tragic when school-aged children are the victims of SCD. The scars left by SCD on families, schools, and communities can be profound. Here at Cardio Partners and AED.com, we’re doing our best to raise awareness about SCA and to advocate for AEDs in the home, on the job, and in our schools.

Thousands of Children Die From Cardiac Arrest Each Year

According to the American Heart Association’s latest figures, 7,037 children die from cardiac arrest each year. When you consider that most American children spend between 175 and 180 days in school each year and receive between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year (Center for Public Education) it’s critically important for our public schools to have AEDs readily available.

SCA is Shockingly Common

It’s hard to believe, but two in fifty high schools in the United States can expect an SCA event each year.

Most States Do Not Require AEDs in Public Schools

Although Tennessee, Cardio Partners’ home state, just joined the ranks of states that require AEDs in public high schools, fewer than 20 states have enacted legislation requiring AEDs in public schools. Just nine of those states provide funding for AEDs.

AEDs in Schools Dramatically Improve the Hospital Survival Rate

The hospital survival rate of students who suffer from cardiac arrest in a school with an AED is approximately 70%, compared with only approximately 8% in the overall population of school-age children (American College of Cardiology).

Young Athletes are More Likely to Experience Sudden Cardiac Death than Non-Athletes

In the United States, a young competitive athlete dies suddenly every three days. Young athletes are more than twice as likely to experience SCD than young non-athletes (Close the Gap). The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that two-thirds of the deaths caused by SCA in children occur during exercise or activity. In fact, SCA is the leading cause of death in young athletes.

Every Second Counts

The American College of Cardiology notes that, “The most important contributing factor for survival of sudden cardiac arrest is the time from collapse to defibrillation. Survival decreases 10% every minute until a shock is applied.”

Anyone Can Use an AED

Studies indicate that students without any prior CPR or AED training can accurately use an AED as directed. AEDs are, by design, easy to use. By following an AED’s simple, clear voice prompts, bystanders can perform the crucial steps that can save a life.

The Biggest Hurdle for Many Schools is Cost

Many companies, including Cardio Partners and AED.com, offer affordable AED packages to schools. These packages may include an AED, compliance management, a wall cabinet, AED pads, a rescue-ready kit, signage, and more. CPR and AED training courses are also available.

Finding the Best Location for Your AED is Important

Your school’s AED can’t save a life if no one can find it! Finding the best placement for your AED is crucial. Locating an AED in a highly visible and public location can mean the difference between life and death.

Good Samaritan Laws Protect Bystanders

You should never be afraid to lend assistance to someone experiencing SCA. Although not all states mandate the placement of AEDs in schools, all 50 states have enacted Good Samaritan laws to protect bystanders who use an AED to resuscitate a victim of SCA.

For more information about AED packages for your school or AED and CPR training, call the team at Cardio Partners and AED.com at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Your Reasons for Not Learning CPR Probably Aren’t Valid

Getting Your CPR and First Aid Certification is Easier than You Think

As a young athlete, I looked on anxiously as my coach responded confidently and calmly when a teammate collapsed from heat exhaustion and dehydration. I watched my mother howl in pain after being shot in the toe by a reveler’s stray New Year’s Eve bullet (true story). Although I had no real clue how to perform it, I steeled myself for the Heimlich when I watched my daughter inhale her first fish taco at an unsightly speed.

Over the years, I’ve stanched countless bloody noses and assessed minor sprains and major bruises, each time wondering, “Am I doing this correctly?”

Still, to my embarrassment, I never managed to take the plunge and sign up for a CPR and First Aid class.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought about getting your CPR and First Aid certifications but just never quite got around to it. Recently, however, I started writing for Cardio Partners. Over the past few months I’ve written posts with titles like “10 Reasons Why You Should Learn CPR” and “The Importance of CPR and AEDs: A Survivor’s Story” and found myself feeling increasingly unqualified to encourage others to sign up for CPR when I, myself, had yet to get certified.

So I decided to do something about it. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself as the lone writer in a small group of amiable YMCA of Middle Tennessee employees, compressing a steady rhythm on the chest of a well-used CPR manikin as my partners held the oxygen mask over its face, counted to 30, delivered rescue breaths, and prepared the AED to administer its life-saving shock.

Two and a half hours later, I was the proud holder of Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, Basic First Aid, and Emergency Oxygen certification cards.

I Don’t Have the Time to Take a CPR Class!

Sound familiar? After discovering that “blended” classes incorporating online training with in-person live skills sessions were offered at my local Y, I realized that my biggest excuse was no longer valid.

Within moments of registering for the course, I received an email from the instructor with a link to the online portion of the course. Initially, I was a bit daunted by the sheer number of lessons required — I opted to become certified not only in CPR/AED, but also in Basic First Aid and Emergency Oxygen administration and had 46 lessons to complete and 3 exams to pass.

I soon discovered, however, that the lessons were short, easy-to-follow, and well-constructed.

Each lesson built nicely upon the one that preceded it and I found myself well-prepared to ace each of the three online exams.

Conveniently, I was able to complete the course in stages and at my own pace. Although it took me five days and a total of four hours to complete, I’m sure that quicker studies than myself could do so in a single session in as little as three hours.

I’m Waaaay Too Squeamish to Take a First Aid Course!

Yup. That’s me. I’m the person in the movie theater who covers her eyes and plugs her ears and whispers, “Is it over yet? Can I look?”

If I survived, you’re going to be just fine.

The videos are predictably staged, the blood is clearly fake, and the burns are obviously of the latex variety. Yeah, you’ll cringe a time or two, but you’ll make it.

I’m the Last Person You’d Want Performing CPR or First Aid!

Prior to completing the course, I’d have to say that statement fit me pretty well. Now that I’m far more confident in my abilities (while still being well aware of my limitations) I’d say that you could do worse than having me by your side in an emergency.

Michelle Mattox, a CPR/AED/First Aid/O2 Instructor at the Margaret Maddox Family YMCA in Nashville has certified hundreds of people over the years and says that she’s gotten a ton of positive feedback from her students, “It’s more effective when people take an online and in-person class because they get a chance to see it, hear it, and be taught the basics at their own pace and then in the class they can really focus on their skills and getting it right. It’s easier to digest that way. Pretty much everybody that I’ve talked to tells me that they feel more confident and that they know what to do.”

CPR Training is Too Expensive!

Costs may vary from provider to provider, but let me assure you, it’s quite reasonable. I recommend checking out the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or your local YMCA for an affordable course near you. Or, to arrange a training for your workplace or organization, call Cardio Partners or AED.com at 866-349-4362 or send an email to customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Char Vandermeer is a freelance copywriter based in Nashville, TN. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading, gardening, kayaking, and soaking up the sunshine with her family.

What’s the Difference Between a Heart Attack and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Is it a Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

If you haven’t put much thought into the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), don’t feel too bad! Many people believe that a heart attack and SCA are the same thing and commonly use the terms interchangeably.

In a nutshell, a heart attack is a circulation problem and cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. Although individuals who have suffered a heart attack are more likely to experience SCA, the two cardiac events are very different! To improve survival odds, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the key differences between a heart attack and SCA.

What is a Heart Attack?

During a heart attack, an artery becomes clogged and cannot carry adequate oxygen to the heart. In many cases, the heart continues to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the cardiac muscle will begin to die. Like all muscles, your heart requires oxygen-rich blood for survival. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.

Comedian, actor, filmmaker, and former convenience store clerk Kevin Smith (@ThatKevenSmith) made headlines last month by tweeting, “After the first show this evening, I had a massive heart attack. The Doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka “the Widow-Maker”). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve died tonight. But for now, I’m still above ground!”

Health.com notes that, “Recovery from a heart attack typically involves medications, changes in diet and exercise habits, and sometimes surgery. Happily, less than a month after his cardiac scare, Smith was back on Twitter announcing that he’d lost 20 pounds and that his blood pressure was “amazing.”

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

According to the Library of Congress, the heart is the hardest working muscle in the body. It pumps out two ounces of blood at every heartbeat. Each day, your heart pumps at least 2,500 gallons of blood! And if you live into your 80s, your heart will have beaten more than three billion times. That’s one hard-charging muscle, so return the favor by paying attention to the signals your heart may be sending you.

If you know what to look for, you may even be able to prevent a heart attack from occurring. Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before a heart attack. The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

Women may experience these symptoms differently than men. Even though heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States, women often fail to identify their symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack.

“‘Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure,’ said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. ‘Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue’” (American Heart Association).

The key takeaway: listen to your body and don’t hesitate to seek medical help should you experience any of these symptoms.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Unlike a heart attack, SCA can occur with little or no warning, as it did for SCA survivor Rob Seymour. SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Symptoms are immediate and dire: sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness, lack of breathing, and no pulse. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the organs of the body are deprived of oxygen.

When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes.

SCA can be caused by any number of events such as ventricular fibrillation, a sudden blow to the chest, electrocution, drowning, drug abuse, cardiomyopathy, and hypothermia. Cardiac arrest can be reversible if it’s treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.

What You Can Do

If you witness someone suffering from a possible heart attack or SCA, call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED. To become even better equipped to respond in the event of a cardiac emergency, sign up for a first aid and CPR course. You never know when your actions could help save a life.

Get certified today. Cardio Partners and aed.com offer CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

The Importance of CPR and AEDs: An SCA Survivor’s Story

Cardiac Arrest Survivor Rob Seymour Advocates for CPR Training and Public Access to AEDs

On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Philadelphians were enjoying one of those postcard-worthy spring days that city-dwellers cherish. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, the air was clear, and the temperature was just right. Runners from all over the country who had gathered in the City of Brotherly Love couldn’t have asked for a better day for the annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run.

Atlanta native Rob Seymour, then 26, and his wife Michelle were among the nearly 40,000 athletes jogging their way to the finish line at Philly’s famed Naval Yard. The popular run down the city’s main north-south thoroughfare is the largest 10-mile race in the nation and a favorite among runners.

A lifelong athlete with a passion for baseball, basketball, and running, Rob had achieved a personal record time during the 2014 race and was focusing on enjoying his fifth Broad Street Run with his wife. They were both looking forward to the celebratory tailgate with friends and family at the end of the course.

“It was a leisurely run. That year the goal was to have Michelle finish the race, so it was a different experience. It was a lot of fun. We were enjoying ourselves through the whole race,” said Rob in a recent interview.

Rob and Michelle never made it to that tailgate, however.

Just moments after Rob and his wife triumphantly crossed the finish line, he began to feel dizzy. At first, he thought it was a low blood pressure issue but soon realized that it was something far more serious.

“My vision just kept closing and things got blurrier and blurrier. I realized that it wasn’t going to stop. I called out to my wife hoping to catch myself on her. She turned around just in time to watch me drop to my knees and fall face first onto the ground,” remembers Rob.

Soon after he hit the pavement, he began seizing. Fortunately, a nearby team of paramedics saved his life. One began performing CPR while the other grabbed a portable automatic external defibrillator (AED). The device quickly recognized that his heart had gone into ventricular fibrillation (V-fib) and applied one shock. After the life-saving shock, Rob’s heart resumed its normal rhythm.

The next thing he remembers he was lying on his back, admiring the clear blue sky as the gurney he was on bumped along to the ambulance. Rob, who worked in the health insurance industry at the time, knew full well the costs associated with the ambulance ride and the treatment they were discussing. Assuming he was merely dehydrated, he found himself requesting a Gatorade and questioning the need for an IV and challenging the EMTs on whether or not he really needed to go to the hospital.

Then the paramedic told him that his heart had stopped and that he’d gone into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

“My wife, who was in the front of the ambulance turned around and told me to just let them do their job,” recalls Rob.

During the five days that Rob spent at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, physicians ran a full battery of cardiac tests in an attempt to determine what had happened.

“They looked at everything they could look at structurally and electrophysiologically, but ultimately they couldn’t tell me what caused the situation,” remembers Rob.

He opted to have a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD) implanted to constantly monitor his heart rate. Fortunately, he hasn’t had any episodes since that day in May and he has the peace of mind of knowing that the S-ICD will shock his heart back into a normal rhythm if necessary.

“If such a thing had to happen, I was certainly in the right place at the right time. I could have been out on my own on a weekend run like I had been hundreds of times. I was so fortunate that the medics and the AED were there,” says Rob.

Since Rob’s SCA, not only does he notice the location of AEDs in airports and in public buildings, but both he and his wife enrolled in a CPR class. Today, he’s an advocate for learning  CPR.

“We felt we needed to be prepared to do that [perform CPR] for someone else,” notes Rob. “We needed to know that we could keep someone alive until help arrives. It wasn’t all that difficult, but it gave us the confidence to know that we could help someone.”

Cardio Partners Account Specialist Sean Stargel, who attended elementary and high school with Rob, remembers him as an outgoing and active athlete who excelled at basketball and baseball.

“Honestly, it’s scary to hear about an AED being used on someone I’ve known as long as I’ve known Rob. I’m very grateful that there was AED present to provide the life-saving therapy that he needed,” says Sean. “We’re in this for a reason and that reason is to make sure that people are informed about the risks of SCA. We provide these devices so that people have a solution within reach.”

 AED.com is a trusted nationwide CPR training center. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.