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Posted by By Megan Wilson March 25, 2024 on Apr 1st 2024

Tauranga wife uses CPR training to save husband having heart attack

Tauranga wife uses CPR training to save husband having heart attack

Tauranga journalist Gavin Ogden believes he would be dead if his wife didn’t know CPR. When the 48-year-old suffered a heart attack in the middle of the night, wife Kirsten Ogden’s first-aid training kicked in: “I was on autopilot … I just started doing it”. Nearly nine months on, Megan Wilson speaks to the couple about how that close call changed their lives.

Gavin Ogden recalls going to bed early on the night of July 28 because he felt nauseous. The next thing he remembers is waking up in an ambulance. Kirsten Ogden said she had been woken at about 4am by her husband making “weird noises”. She turned on the light and thought he was having a seizure. Kirsten immediately called 111, and the operator told her to get him off the bed and start CPR. “I was on autopilot but because I’d done a couple of first-aid courses, I didn’t really have to think about it that much. I just started doing it,” Kirsten told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Kirsten performed CPR for about 15 minutes before a volunteer first responder showed up and took over until emergency services arrived. “It was terrifying. It was weird standing back just in the corner of our bedroom just watching them try and resuscitate him with the [defibrillator],” she said. “I think they did it about three times before anything happened.” Reflecting on her actions, Kirsten said: “I think if I wasn’t there to do that … I don’t think he would be here. “It definitely makes us look at things completely different because we’ve both realised how short life can be and things can change in an instant.”

The couple shared their story to encourage people to do a first-aid course and learn CPR. “I would be dead if my wife didn’t know CPR,” Gavin said.

Health ‘fine’ before heart attack Gavin saw his doctor a few days before his heart attack “and everything was fine”. He was exercising most days – going for long walks and cycling – and was not overweight. “So why would I go to bed at night and think my heart would stop beating?” Gavin said the surgeon thought family history may offer some clues, but he did not have enough information to be sure. Gavin said he had an angioplasty – a treatment using stents to improve blood flow to the heart by opening a narrowed or blocked coronary artery – and was discharged from the hospital a few days later. He had chest burns from the defibrillator and cracked ribs, which he saw as “a good sign” CPR had been done properly. For about six weeks, moving the upper part of his body was “quite hard”.

No proper holiday in ‘years’ Gavin said he had decided to “kick back for a year” to recover and focus more on his body and mind after the heart attack. “I think I probably took all that for granted. Probably working in the media industry is part of that because that’s kind of what I’ve done since in my 20s … just been go, go, go, non-stop. “I hadn’t really had a holiday for years which is probably one of the reasons it happened.” Gavin said he and his wife were “lucky” to be in a financial position where he could take time off work. He aimed to walk 3-5km per day and had started surfing “a bit more seriously”. He took daily medication and had regular check-ups at Tauranga Hospital. Still, a repeat of the incident was on his mind. “Because I’ve already had one, I think the risk of me having another one is high.”

Early CPR ‘crucial’ to survival Hato Hone St John deputy chief executive of clinical services Dr Damian Tomic said Ogden’s story showed why it was important more New Zealanders knew how to administer CPR. “We know that early CPR and application of an automated external defibrillator … are crucial to survival when someone goes into cardiac arrest.” He said people of any age could learn CPR and it did not take long. “Our report shows that community help can double the chances of survival.” St John’s latest out-of-hospital cardiac arrest reports show it treated about 2000 people for this in the 2022/23 financial year. Seventy-six per cent received bystander CPR and 5 per cent received defibrillation by a community responder before an ambulance arrived. Twenty-three per cent of patients survived until they arrived at the hospital and 11 per cent survived 30 days post-cardiac arrest. “Without rapid intervention, cardiac arrest will always result in death. For every minute without CPR or defibrillation, a patient’s chance of survival falls by 10 to 15 per cent,” the report said. Survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests was largely due to the quick actions of bystanders who initiated CPR and used a defibrillator.