An uplifting real-life event that relates a 27-year-old man’s return to life.
A sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart abruptly stops beating. As the pumping action stops, blood is no longer delivered to the brain and other organs. The brain, deprived of oxygen, will suffer irreparable damage. The person can possibly die in a matter of minutes if immediate treatment is not rendered.
A Young Man Suffers a Cardiac Arrest
Kauvery’s emergency department saw a 27-year-old man brought in after having suffered a cardiac arrest. The patient had complained of chest pain at home and subsequently collapsed. Rushing him to the hospital took a critical 20 minutes. He was unconscious on arrival; doctors could not detect a pulse. His BP and oxygen readings too showed no signs of life. What is usually regarded as the window of opportunity for successful treatment and revival had passed.
Kauvery’s Never-Give-Up Attitude
Kauvery’s team swung into action. Advanced cardiac life support resuscitation (ACLS) was started immediately. The patient still showed no response. Doctors feared that he would not survive and were concerned that even if he did, his brain would have suffered irreparable damage. As their efforts seemed to bear fruit, the patient’s heart beat appeared briefly, only to disappear once again.
Not ones to give up, the team continued CPR unabated as the patient was shifted to the hybrid cath lab. The patient was put on veno-arterial extra-corporeal membrane oxygenator (VA-ECMO) – this supports the circulation and oxygenation of blood, and as a result, the other organs of the body continue to receive blood in spite of the heart’s action being stopped. Thus, it provides the doctors with precious time in which to treat the patient.
Dr Manoj Sivaramakrishnan, the senior interventional cardiologist at Kauvery, who was managing the patient, successfully performed a high-risk angioplasty and placed a stent in the blocked blood vessel to open it up and allow blood flow once again. The latest in stents (called bioresorbable scaffolds) were used, which while facilitating blood flow would eventually dissolve, thus leaving no foreign presence in the blood vessel. No stone was left unturned in treatment, and only the best was provided.
Post-operatively, the patient was under the care of the multi-disciplinary critical care team. Three days later, ECMO support was withdrawn. The medical team watched with happiness and relief as the patient returned to his normal self with no sign of brain damage. The team was elated, and they continued to monitor the patient closely. At midnight, 4 days later, he experienced another heart attack. Treatment was rendered immediately, and the patient successfully passed yet another obstacle. With time, his heart was able to resume nearly 55% of its normal activity. The doctor and his team were rewarded with the sight of the patient actually walk out of the hospital.
Dr Manoj Sivaramakrishnan Explains
This was indeed a rare case where the patient recovered without damage to the brain. Usually, such cases suffer coma and sometimes even death results. Worldwide, doctors agree that following a cardiac arrest, CPR should be started in a matter of minutes by whoever happens to be with the patient. So, the question remains as to how this patient survived and regained full functioning of his organs.
Dr Manoj accounts for it by explaining that the patient was in a possible state of suspended animation – a condition wherein biological function is put on hold temporarily so that the body parts are left unharmed. Thanks to Kauvery’s 24-hour ECMO services, the patient was put on ECMO without delay. This, coupled with continuous resuscitation, proved invaluable to the patient. Angioplasty and stenting done with cutting-edge technology facilitated further recovery. Dr Manoj is of the staunch belief that a person brought to the hospital after a brief period of unresponsiveness should always be given immediate CPR.
Accolades from Dr Aravindan
Dr Aravindan Selvaraj, co-founder of Kauvery Hospital, is indeed delighted with the outcome. He is full of praise for the surgeon and his team. He further stresses the importance of awareness – responding to a sudden cardiac arrest is something he feels everyone should know. Loss of life can be prevented if people are acquainted with how to administer CPR. CPR should be continued till an ambulance arrives and the patient is shifted to a hospital.
Dr Aravindan recognizes this particular patient’s treatment as the milestone that it is. He believes that the combination of medical expertise with the state-of-the-art infrastructure that Kauvery Hospital offered was what made this remarkable recovery possible.