Quick-Thinking Nurse Survives Heart Attack With DIY Treatment

The man hooked himself to an electrocardiogram machine, inserted intravenous lines in both arms and self-medicated when he felt the cardiac arrest begin.


A 44-year-old man, who luckily happened to be a nurse, was reportedly all alone on his duty at a nursing post in Coral Bay, more than 1,000 kilometers from Perth, the capital of Western Australia, when he felt severe chest pain.

The man, who asked to stay anonymous, was at a health clinic, situated at a remote seaside settlement in the country, when he sensed a heart attack and dizziness. The next medical facility was 150 kilometers away from his location and there was no one around to help him.

So, the courageous nurse decided to take matters into his own hands.

He hooked himself to electrocardiogram machine, despite the pain and discovered a complete heart block that may have caused the developing heart attack.

He repeated the EKG which confirmed the heart attack diagnosis. Following the confirmation, the nurse emailed his results to an Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS) doctor, who started talking to him on real-time video.

As advised, the man inserted intravenous  lines in both of his arms himself and self-administered the drugs which included aspirin, blood thinners, painkillers and a clot-dissolving drug called tenecteplase.

“He attached his own defibrillator pads and prepared adrenaline, atropine, and amiodarone,” which are drugs to treat heart rhythm problems, said the report.

Thankfully, the clot-busting drugs worked and the heart-attack subsided.

The next day, the nurse was flown to a cardiology unit in Perth, where a stent was inserted in the blocked coronary artery and after two days he was released. Experts do not suggest his extreme do-it-yourself, MacGyver-like approach, however, the use of clot-busting drug is standard procedure for people living far from a hospital. Plus the nurse’s own medical background and knowledge contributed to his survival.

“It was quite genius to be able to do all these things,” said Brandon Godbout, vice chair of the emergency department at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

“When nobody else is around, what do you do? This person seemed to have quite good experience in emergency care, based on their confidence in managing this severe situation,” said Godbout.

The incident also shows the importance of telemedicine, where patients are treated with the help of telecommunications technology, particularly as hospitals move away from rural areas, leaving more people far from emergency medical care.

“I think telemedicine is crucial to dealing with these sorts of emergencies,” Godbout added.

Thumbnail/Banner Image: Pixabay, Geralt

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