10 Valuable Life Lessons from a Cardiac Arrest Survivor

In August, Jeffrey Feig, a 50-year-old financial executive in Manhattan and father of three young sons, became one of the more than 350,000 Americans who each year suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. His heart went into an erratic and ineffective rhythm and he stopped breathing.

But unlike 90 percent of people similarly afflicted, Mr. Feig not only lived to tell the tale but survived his near-death experience without any damage to his heart muscle or his brain, an outcome rarely seen following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Mr. Feig owes his life and bright future to the forward thinking, planning and participation of fellow residents at Pine Lake Park, a bungalow colony in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., where he and his family spend the summer. The moment he collapsed, fellow vacationers who had been trained at the colony in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator, or A.E.D., sprung into action.

One person called for an ambulance, another began chest compressions, a third provided mouth-to-mouth ventilation while a fourth ran into the social hall to get the defibrillator, which was used to shock his heart back to a normal, lifesaving rhythm. Just two weeks before this incident, the colony had conducted a training and refresher course in these lifesaving measures.

If not for his lay rescuers, Mr. Feig would most likely not have survived. It took the ambulance 10 minutes to arrive; without oxygen, the brain is permanently damaged after about four minutes and death follows a few minutes later. But moments after receiving the shock from the A.E.D., which enabled his heart to again pump oxygen-rich blood to his brain and body, Mr. Feig regained consciousness.

From Jeff Feig … Today is exactly one year to the day my heart stopped following a run when I had a sudden cardiac arrest. I am told the medical term for what happened to me is “Aborted Sudden Death” and my death was only aborted because Tommy Atlas (Stephanie Atlas Bohn’s father) got us to buy an AED five years ago and five friends acted fast by immediately beginning CPR, getting the AED strapped on me, shocking me and giving me mouth to mouth. I was dead for under two minutes and brought back to life by Moshe Lachter, Liz Freirich, Adam Iarussi, Jacob Iarussi (Son of Deborah Sills Iarussi and Adam) and Wendy Turchin.

For more details, read the New York Times article below

However, here are my top 10 lessons learned from having a death experience. These are my personal choices, I could have had a top 20 or top 50. I’m happy for any comments that want to suggest the ones I missed.


1. See your doctors regularly, you idiot. Three years between visits is not appropriate. While you’re at it, get off your duff and exercise. 10k steps per day, one hour of moving your body, pushing your heart rate to the max, whatever turns you on, just exercise. It makes a difference in length of life and quality of life.

2. Take a statin and a baby aspirin every day. I’m not interested in how low you think your cholesterol is or how you will get it under control by eating like a vegan for a week. Just take the damn meds. The research is clear. People on statins have less cardiac events. No medicine in history as been as effective in preventing death.

3. Ski. Ski. Ski. It’s a great sport and a great way to spend time. Don’t die before you’ve skied enough times.

4. Laugh and have fun often. The glass isn’t half full. Its 90% full.

5. Family is important and I will come to that later, but have a lot of friends and treasure them. Without them #4 is much harder. Don’t be broiges (yiddish word, look it up), it’s not worth it.

6. Do things. Do lot’s of things. You’ve got old age to relax and sleep. Be active, read a lot, take chances, wake up early, stay up late, don’t miss an opportunity, make things happen even when it’s hard and a pain in the ass. Challenge yourself, it’s worth it. You can sleep when you’re dead.

7. Make sure all the places you go, belong to, attend — gyms, synagogues, churches, community centers, schools etc have AEDs. Get one for your home. They are cheaper than death. They work. They save lives. Learn how to use it. Learn CPR. You WILL have the opportunity to save a life, don’t blow it.

8. Have friends who are doctors. They are great people. They help. They are underpaid and overworked. They are in this because they are committed and damned smart. Be a good friend to them, they will always be a good friend to you.

9. Spend those precious moments with your spouse and kids and create more. Enjoy them, you can never have enough time. Laugh with your kids, wipe their tears and just don’t yell at them. It never helps and usually hurts. Create memories, have fun, engender happiness.

10. Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate every oportunity at every possible time. Find a reason to celebrate and make it happen. Surround yourself with the people you love and celebrate. You can’t do it enough. Isn’t that what life’s all about?

Original Article