An Especially Meaningful Mother’s Day After Surviving Cardiac Arrest

By Meredith Whittemore

This year’s Mother’s Day could’ve been a tough one for Janet Mendoza. Several months prior, she was at risk of losing her mother, Amada Mendoza, after she experienced cardiac arrest.

“She was complaining of chest pain and feeling ‘burpy.’ I just thought it was acid reflux or something,” Janet Mendoza said.

She took her mother to the Memorial Hermann Urgent Care on Washington Avenue. As they were walking to the clinic, her mother collapsed, just feet away from the front door.

“She kind of fell into me, and so once I got her carefully to the ground, I ran to the clinic and yelled for help. She was gasping for air and then I just saw her face go blank. I thought she was dead,” Mendoza said.

Nurses from the Urgent Care began CPR, while others called 911.

“When someone goes into cardiac arrest, the sooner you can start CPR, the better.  If the brain doesn’t get blood within four to five minutes, it can be damaged,” said Mirza Baig, MD, the cardiologist who treated Amada after she was taken to Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital.

At the hospital, a stent was inserted to open the blockage that had caused Amada’s heart attack and subsequent cardiac arrest.

“I saw how hard everyone worked to try and save my mother’s life. It was like something out of a movie, really,” Janet Mendoza said. “She woke up just a few hours after having the surgery and didn’t have any lasting side effects from the cardiac arrest. It really shocked everyone.”

Dr. Baig said Amada Mendoza’s full recovery is due, in part, to the quick care she received.

“She’s very lucky it happened close to a medical facility because she got the immediate attention she needed. We don’t know how her heart or brain might have been damaged if she hadn’t received CPR as quickly as she did,” Dr. Baig said.

Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs without warning following a heart attack, or during recovery from a heart attack. Living a heart healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.  That includes maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, participating in 30 minutes of exercise five times a week and eating a heart healthy diet.

Janet Mendoza said this Mother’s Day will be an especially poignant one.

“I’m pretty close with my mom and I can’t imagine being without her. It was a really hard experience to go through and I can’t thank everyone enough for working so hard to save my mom,” Janet Mendoza said.

To learn more about how to be heart healthy, visit heart.memorialhermann.org.  To schedule an appointment with a Memorial Hermann affiliated cardiologist near you, call 713.222.CARE or go to heart.memorialhermann.org/doctors

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