Moments after Brad Phelps took the field for his first indoor football league match, he fell dead.
Phelps, 23, of Morristown, Georgia, underwent a sudden cardiac arrest. At the time, he was 22 years old and soon graduated from college.
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A teammate quickly began breast compression while emergency personnel were called. When they arrived, the paramedics shocked Phelps' heart with a defibrillator and rushed him to a local hospital.
In total, his heart stops beating in 12 minutes.
Phelps was later transported to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. When he arrived, Dr. Umesh Gidwani, Head of Cardiac Critical Care for Mount Sinai Hospital, and Dr. Ali Zaidi, System Director of the Mount Sinai Congenital Heart Disease Center, both of which were treating Phelps, were already Concerned about young man brain damage.
To prevent further damage, physicians choose to use therapeutic hypothermia to treat Phelps. In 24 hours his body temperature was lowered to about 91 ° F, hoping the cooler temperature would slow down the chemical reactions in his body and reduce any inflammation in his brain.
When one has a cardiac arrest – not to be confused with a heart attack – the blood stops flowing to the organs of the body, which can potentially cause brain damage, especially due to lack of of oxygen.
"We want to remove the brain's workload and let it recover," Zaidi told Fox News about therapeutic hypothermia, during which Phelps was unconscious. "When the hypothermia is over, we reverse the cooling and let the body return to normal and wait to see how the brain responds."
To the delight of his family and doctors, Phelps woke up shortly after his body returned to normal. from 98.6 ° F. He has miraculously suffered no brain damage. He started walking again, albeit with help, just days after the incident.
"He's doing remarkably well," Gidwani says today. "The trajectory of improvements suggests that if there were any cognitive deficits, they would be so minimal."
Despite his young age, Phelps is at increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest because he developed a childhood heart disease called a disease. to Kawasaki when she was 5, Zaidi told Fox News. The condition causes swelling in the walls of medium-sized arteries in the body, including the coronary arteries, at the Mayo Clinic.
Inflammatory coronary arteries can "lead to weakening and swelling of the artery wall" or to aneurysms. Aneurysms may increase the risk of blood clots and internal bleeding.
Although he routinely sees a pediatric cardiologist who manages to manage the condition by prescribing blood thinners and stress tests, TODAY – Phelps still has not transferred his care to an adult cardiologist when he is suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.
"I was in pretty good cardiovascular form," he said at the exit, noting that he was living an active lifestyle. "I had no health gap at all."
"He's very lucky," Zaidi said. "The heart has made a good recovery, but its brain is in remarkable shape, despite everything that has happened."
Zaidi said that the Phelps case serves as an important reminder to those who have long suffered from a heart condition to continue care and treatment in adulthood.
"He is very lucky."
"He has a false sense of security; it's not like they're sick every day of their lives, "he explained. "This is why the transition from pediatric to adult care is so important."
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Although more than 2 million people in the United States live with birth defects, "only the faction is looking for proper care, "said Zaidi.
" The burden is huge on the US health care system; the message is that if you were born with heart disease or develop heart failure, "he continued, encouraging doctors to better educate their patients on the importance of long-term care.