A Patient’s Heartfelt Thanks

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It’s the little moments that have the biggest impact.

“You know, all the holidays, all the birthdays – they weren’t as important as the little things every day,” said Leigh Pechillo.

It was Mother’s Day 2014, and Leigh was enjoying a day of pampering that featured a song written just for her by her two children. But something just wasn’t right.

“I started experiencing heartburn, and it was really bad,” Leigh said. “It was something different than I had ever felt before.”

She went to the bathroom to get an antacid, where she collapsed. Her husband, Tom, called 9-1-1, and immediately began performing CPR. He continued until paramedics arrived.

Leigh was in crisis, more advance intervention was required, and time was of the essence. LIFE STAR was called in to rush her to the Hartford Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute tertiary care center.

“Everything moves very quickly,” said Cardiologist Dr. John Granquist of the work that happens at the center. “(Leigh) was brought up to the cath lab. She had an urgent angiogram to define what the problem was. When the blood flow is cut off to the heart muscle because of the heart artery narrowing, you can develop an electrical problem called an arrhythmia. And the arrhythmia is what caused Leigh’s heart to stop.”

The clinical team implemented a remarkable procedure: induced hypothermia, which minimizes the chance for the brain having injury once you restore the blood flow. Rewarming her revealed another crisis: more arrhythmia. Time was running short.

“Our interventional cardiology team was able to successfully fix and open the artery,” said Dr. Granquist.

“I woke up four days later, and people were smiling and happy and so thrilled to see me,” Leigh recalls.

Leigh and her family are grateful that the right care was available for her at the right time and in the right place to save her life, and for the support they showed her and her family.

“That’s one of the amazing things at Hartford Hospital. Not only were they able to take care of me as the patient, they took care of my family.”

Hands-only CPR can help keep a loved one alive until help arrives. Learn more about it here

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