A Fort Worth woman who came back to life after going into full cardiac arrest is turning that test into a testimony, sharing her story and stressing the importance of heart health.
"I celebrate my survival each year because I know I was out of here," Patricia Mims said.
Her life today is nothing short of a miracle.
In April of 2009, everything changed in an instant. Mims was at work in Fort Worth when suddenly, she knew something wasn’t right.
"I had been feeling real sick, like I had the flu or upper respiratory infection," Mims recalled. "I continue to feel shortness of breath, and it got worse and worse. All of a sudden my heart, it made a sound, like, ‘cloop.’ It just jerked, and I felt it in my chest. And I was at my desk and thought, 'wow.'"
She left work early that day and, amazingly, made it back home.
"It was just sweat everywhere, just all over her body, running down her forehead. She was just drenched in sweat,” Mims' daughter, Brooke, said.
Brooke, 14 years old at the time, was just home from school. She recalled how out of nowhere, her mother collapsed. "She just fell out. Like literally, her whole body went limp, and she just collapsed right in front of me," she said.
"I had sudden cardiac arrest and I dropped to floor," said Patricia. "They said I was dead."
Her heart stopped beating for nearly two minutes. Brooke and her brother, Branden, frantically tried to get their mother help.
"I knew instantly that she was gone," Brooke said.
"Women usually don’t survive. They don’t come back from that," Patricia explained. But, she did, and Patricia was completely unaware that she had just collapsed.
"In fact, she did die. I mean, when you have cardiac arrest, for whatever reason, your heart is stopping,” Doctor Dale Yoo, a cardiologist, explained.
Yoo says cardiac arrest is quite common. There are more than 500,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone, and survival is low.
"It is actually the most common cause of death," Yoo said. "It is more than all causes of death including cancers, specifically breast cancer. If there are any signs of any health issues, anytime in your life, you may want to look into that. Those exams that you get may help to determine whether or not you have a cardiomyopathy, or they may be able to do tests like echocardiograms which is basically an ultra sound of the heart, so that we can early see, and screen these patients."
At 46, Patricia was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. She now has what’s called an ICD, or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, implanted in her chest.
"I am a walking miracle. I know I am. I know I am," Patricia said. "It’s amazing from where I was and where I am now. I was so weak. I couldn’t even walk a few steps without losing my breath. My breath would go away, because my heart was pumping so slow, it couldn’t get the blood where it needed to be."
"It’s just made me feel so grateful for my life, and the people that are in my life because that was an experience where in a split second, you know, someone is gone," Brooke said. "Everything she is doing is very intentional. Her life is so purposeful."
Patricia has to see a cardiologist twice a year. She has made a complete lifestyle change since her cardiac arrest, which includes a drastic change to her diet.
Yoo says he’s seeing more and more young patients with cardiomyopathy. Teenagers in fact. He stresses the importance of early heart exams.
"Looking for arrhythmias may be something that you can do at an early age. If you have extra beats in your chest, if you’re getting those extra beats and it’s causing you to get dizzy or light headed," Yoo said. "At best, I’d say that it can affect you at all decades of life, and so I think because you’re only in your 20s, or you’re only in your 30s, I think we need to look into it a little deeper."