Woman saves husband of 50 years from "Widowmaker" Heart Attack

It’s a milestone that many couples dream of achieving: 50 years of marriage.

“We met at Kansas State University and got married in 1965. Since then, we’ve had plenty of joyful times like the birth of our two sons and four beautiful grandchildren. But we’ve also faced things like a miscarriage, unemployment and cancer,” says Lonna Turner.

The Turners agree that the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced came recently, when Edward suddenly experienced a cardiac arrest.

“I remember waking up for work, and then nothing,” he says.

For Lonna, however, it’s something she’ll never forget.

“I remember him falling on the floor and I couldn’t rouse him. I called 911 and the operator asked if I knew CPR, which I did remember some of the technique from years ago. She talked me through CPR, counting with me through each chest compression until the paramedics got there,” she says.

Edward was rushed to the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, where his body was put into therapeutic hypothermia,  a process of deliberately cooling the core body temperature for 24 hours in an effort to prevent brain damage.  After his body was returned to a normal core body temperature, Daniel Hermann, M.D., a cardiac disease specialist with Memorial Hermann Medical Group Memorial City Cardiology, discovered that Edward not only had problems maintaining a regular heartbeat, but also had a blockage in his left anterior descending artery, also known as the ‘widowmaker artery’ due to the often deadly nature of heart attacks caused by blockages to this artery. Edward would eventually have both a defibrillator implanted in his heart and stent inserted into his artery.

Dr. Hermann calls Edward a “miracle” patient because not many people survive a cardiac arrest without some degree of brain injury. “I can’t stress enough how important it was that his wife began CPR within minutes of his collapse. For each minute blood isn’t pumping to the brain, you run the risk of lasting neurological impacts. For Edward to be able to walk, talk and carry on a normal life is truly remarkable,” says Dr. Hermann.

Edward says he’s had to make some lifestyle changes and has enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation, but is slowly returning to feeling like his old self.

“My wife says she didn’t rescue me to go back to my old habits,” he laughs.

“Through all life’s obstacles, our love, positive attitude and faith have carried us.  We now have made it through the biggest obstacle of our 52 years of marriage.  Thanks to CPR we are hoping to celebrate 60 years!” says Lonna.