Co-workers with CPR and AED training save Lexington man from ‘widow maker’ heart attack; now he’s fine and cheering Wildcats

Tim Hayden (UK photo)

This time last year, co-workers’ quick actions saved a Kentucky man who suffered from a usually fatal type of heart attack because they knew how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED). They were able to keep him alive until he could get medical help, according to a University of Kentucky news release.

Tim Hayden, a big UK basketball fan who works at Lexington’s Southern Wine and Spirits, was at a work meeting last March, hoping it would end before the Southeastern Conference Tournament games started that day, when he had the heart attack.

His doctor, Adrian Messerli, director of the heart catheterization laboratory at the UK Gill Heart Institute, said it was the type of heart attack that is often called the “widow-maker” because fewer than half of its victims survive.

“Dr. Messerli told us if Tim had been at home, or if the meeting had been scheduled later, or if he’d been in his car, this type of heart attack isn’t something that people typically survive,” said Harold Nikirk, Southern Wine and Spirits’ field sales manager and Tim’s boss.

Upon realizing that Hayden wasn’t just goofing off and pretending to be snoring so they would wrap up the meeting, two of the co-workers trained in CPR immediately began it. One who was trained on the AED, a portable device that checks heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm, used it.

Everyone in the office pitched in, Nikirk said, calling 911, waving down the ambulance and moving cars and furniture out of the way to make room for the paramedics.

“I think Tim was fortunate for many reasons,” Messerli said. “He was surrounded by co-workers who knew how to perform CPR and knew how to use an AED. Those critical first steps sustained Tim until we could get him the treatment he needed.”

Paramedics took him to UK, where his wife Catherine works and where Dr. Messerli was waiting for him in the catheterization lab.

“With a heart attack, especially one like Tim’s, every minute literally counts,” Messerli said. “We were the first hospital in Lexington to allow paramedics to bypass the emergency room and go directly to the cath lab, which buys us precious time and hugely increases the patient’s chances for survival.”

Hayden’s co-workers created
a Heart Walk team. (UK photo)

Messerli restored blood flow by inserting two stents with a catheter and placing him in a type of medically induced coma to cool his body temperature, which is “thought to protect the vital organs from damage and improves healing,” Messerli said. Tim spent three weeks in the hospital.

“What’s so gratifying about Tim’s case is that the healing has really been complete and absolute,” he said. “When I see him in the office, he’s in wonderful spirits, minimal complaints, and he’s doing really well.”

Since then, about a dozen of SWS’s 40 staffers have received CPR certification and AED training, says the release.

They have also been honored by the Lexington Fire Department for their bravery, quick thinking and knowledge of CPR and have participated in the American Heart Association‘s 2015 Heart Walk on #TimsTeam and raised $3,500 on his behalf.

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