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Profile 1 - Jim Keech

.By Ann-Maureen Owens with photography by Bernard Clark

At age 61, Jim Keech knows he is very lucky to be alive. Last July, he was at the west-end YMCA doing what he considered a rather low-level treadmill run. Suddenly, something didn’t feel right, and he tried to step off the machine but ended up falling to the floor. Jim had been enjoying a day off work so was exercising before lunch, not at his usual 5:30 a.m. time. There were plenty of people around to administer first aid and call 911.

He does not remember the ambulance ride but was told that the paramedics said they had lost him on the way to Kingston General Hospital. When he awoke in the emergency room, he had severe chest pain and told an attendant he thought he was having a heart attack. “It’s not a heart attack,” she replied, and went on to tell Jim he had suffered a cardiac arrest and ambulance paramedics had to administer CPR and use a defibrillator to shock him back to life. The discomfort he felt upon waking was the result of cracked ribs from the procedures that had saved him.

Unlike a heart attack that is usually signalled by chest pain due to a lack of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, a cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops beating. Something happens to alter the heart’s electrical system and alter its rhythm. Heart disease can be one cause, but like many others who experience this life-threatening event, Jim had no blocked arteries . . .

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