On April 7, 2015, around 9pm, 36-year-old Jessica Headlee felt unexpectedly fatigued. By 10pm, she started having left-sided chest pain, nausea, and sweating. Jessica’s significant other called 911. EMS arrived moments later to find that Jessica’s heart had gone into a fatal arrhythmia. EMS initiated CPR and shocked her back into rhythm. After Jessica regained a pulse, the EKG indicated that this otherwise healthy young woman was having a heart attack.
EMS activated a code STEMI at HCA Midwest Health—calling in specially trained medical professionals. Upon arrival to the cardiac catheterization lab, Jessica was found to have a completely blocked major heart artery. Within 42 minutes of the patient’s arrival to the hospital, the cardiologist and his team had the artery open. Although the artery was opened very quickly, Jessica’s heart sustained some damage with an ejection fraction of 20% (normal is 75%). This required that she wear a special vest that shocked her if she developed another fatal arrhythmia.
Upon discharge from the hospital, Jessica underwent cardiac rehab where she gained strength, confidence, and actually reversed damage to her heart. After three months of rehab she was able to take off her special vest and graduate from cardiac rehab. Jessica’s resilience, determined attitude, and perseverance makes her a great role model for women’s heart care. Jessica serves our country in the Army Reserve and was getting ready to be deployed to Panama two weeks prior to her heart attack. The swift action of the EMS crew saved Jessica’s life and allowed the medical team at LSMC to open her artery and give her excellent heart care.