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  • Sarah Waara

Building a stronger, healthier heart after cardiac arrest



Allen started a new position at his workplace on a Monday in August 2023, but he can’t remember any other day from that week. 


While at work on Thursday of that first week, he went into cardiac arrest. His colleagues did 10 minutes of CPR and used their AED to shock his heart two times before paramedics arrived and took him to Ascension NE Wisconsin - Mercy Campus.


Allen never had previous health concerns, was not taking any medication and never had heart issues in the past. 


“I only remember Monday of that week. I don’t remember Tuesday or Wednesday, and then it happened on Thursday,” Allen said. “It turns out I had an enlarged heart. I was working hard on the job which caused my heart to go out of rhythm but I never had any previous health issues.”


After arriving at Ascension Mercy, Allen was immediately placed on a ventilator and underwent cardiac catheterization — in the same space that his daughter works in everyday — to understand what was going on. Shortly after, he was in a medically induced coma to help his body recover from the trauma it experienced. 


Allen spent four days at Ascension Mercy. After that, he was transferred to Ascension NE Wisconsin - St. Elizabeth Campus where a cardiologist inserted a pacemaker and defibrillator in his heart. Everything went well and he was able to go home the next day. 


Six weeks of rest and physical limitations — like not lifting his left arm over his head — was required before Allen was able to start cardiac rehabilitation at Ascension Mercy. The outpatient program helps patients build their hearts to be stronger through physical exercise in both individual and group formats.


Today, Allen is able to walk around the block and he went back to work in December 2023. While he is still working toward increasing his energy levels to what they once were, he is grateful for the care he received and the positive impact that cardiac rehabilitation has had on his recovery.


“Everything went well at Ascension Mercy and Ascension St. Elizabeth, the people that cared for me did a great job,” he said. “The rehabilitation program got me moving and I really liked the group aspect. It helped having people that were going through similar situations working out alongside me and it helped me in my recovery.”


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