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East TN woman lives without a heart rate for an hour

10:29 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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An East Tennessee woman walked away from a medical condition few survive.

Olivia Arnold is 35. Last Wednesday, she suffered a massive heart attack that left her without a heart rate for close to an hour.

"They call it the widow maker and they say maybe less than two percent survive," she said.

According to staff at UT Medical Center, Arnold lived thanks to multiple factors.

First, her neighbor was quick thinking in calling an ambulance to get her to the hospital. And, second, paramedics' insistence to perform CPR helped stimulate her blood flow.

"I told her from the get go, 'if she was going to survive this, it was because of God,'" said Dr. Chris Scott. "We were just her doctors."

Arnold used to smoke before the incident. She said she will now stop.

According to her friend, Melissa Murray, the heart attack has even inspired others across the country to do the same.

"Me and her have a pact, both of us are little overweight, by next year, we will run a 5K," she said.

Arnold has a lot of experience dealing with heart attacks too. She is an emergency dispatcher for the Grainger County E-911 Center. Wednesday alone, her boss Randy Holt said the center had two heart attack calls.

"For her to be the one now having to call 911 with a massive heart attack as the doctors have described, it's unheard of," he said.

Arnold is now resting at home. She has suffered some memory loss, but only has minimal heart damage; it's a striking change from when only 25 percent of her heart was working after the incident.

Her friends have set up an account for those who would like to help with her medical expenses. If interested, you can make donations at any Regions Bank in East Tennessee on Olivia Arnold's behalf.

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