It isn’t just cats which have nine lives! American heart disease patient technically died 10 times

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They are saying cats have nine lives, but one woman within the US has one-upped that expression by getting back from the dead 10 times.

The 63-year-old retired school teacher suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) — a heart muscle disease that affects one in 500 Americans and Britons. 

She was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) — a tool that jump-starts the center if it stops beating — when medics diagnosed her in 2003.

They normally only get used once in a patient’s lifetime, if in any respect. 

However the unidentified woman, from Duluth in Minnesota, was saved 10 times over the space of 19 years.

Her heart stopped beating for 18 seconds on one occasion.

Doctors at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, said her case shows the ‘power and sturdiness of the devices’ for preserving life.

Danish footballer Christian Eriksen was fitted with an ICD after he collapsed when his heart stopped beating for five minutes during a European Championship game against Finland last May. 

The 63-year-old retired school teacher suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) — a heart muscle disease that affects one in 500 Americans and Britons. She was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) — a tool that jump-starts the center if it stops beating — when medics diagnosed her in 2003

The unidentified mother from Duluth in Minnesota had her heart jump-started 10 times over 19 years by an ICD. The electrogram — data from the ICD (pictured) — shows that her heart stopped beating for 18 seconds during one near-death experience, which occurred at 4am. The device shocked her heart, restoring it to its normal beat

The unidentified mother from Duluth in Minnesota had her heart jump-started 10 times over 19 years by an ICD. The electrogram — data from the ICD (pictured) — shows that her heart stopped beating for 18 seconds during one near-death experience, which occurred at 4am. The device shocked her heart, restoring it to its normal beat

Doctors who treated her at Tufts Medical Center reported that the case is 'particularly impressive' because only one third of 125 HCM patients treated at their hospital need their ICD more than once in their lifetime. Even then, the majority only experience one to three near-death experiences

Doctors who treated her at Tufts Medical Center reported that the case is ‘particularly impressive’ because just one third of 125 HCM patients treated at their hospital need their ICD greater than once of their lifetime. Even then, the bulk only experience one to 3 near-death experiences

WHAT IS HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY? 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an inherited disease of your heart muscle, where the muscle wall of your heart becomes thickened.

It’s a genetic condition brought on by a change or mutation in a number of genes and is passed on through families.

It affects one in 500 Britons and Americans. A toddler of somebody with HCM has a 50 per cent probability of inheriting the condition. 

It happens when the muscular wall of the center becomes thickened which may make the center muscle stiff. 

This could make it harder on your heart to pump blood out of your heart and around your body.

Its most important symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations and light-headedness. Most victims have few or no symptoms and live a traditional life.

Abnormal heart rhythms and infections of the center’s inner lining can develop in consequence of HCM.

There’s a rare risk of developing a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm, which could cause a cardiac arrest and sudden death.

Source: British Heart Foundation

HCM causes the center muscle to change into excessively thick and stiff, making it harder to pump blood out of the center and across the body. 

It’s brought on by genetic mutations and is passed on through families.

A toddler of somebody with HCM has a 50 per cent probability of inheriting the condition. 

Its most important symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations and light-headedness. 

Most victims have few or no symptoms and live a traditional life.

But a small group are at-risk of developing life-threatening arrhythmia — an abnormal heart beat that could cause it to suddenly stop — so are vulnerable to death.

Stress, exercise, caffeine or other drugs is usually a trigger.

HCM was probably the most common reason for sudden death however the rollout of ICDs has caused the speed to drop dramatically.

Writing in The American Journal of Cardiology, doctors described the case as an ‘extreme example’ of the facility of the small machines, that are the dimensions of a matchbox.

Medics at Tufts Medical Center, led by cardiologist Dr Barry Maron, diagnosed the patient with HCM in July 2003, when she was 44-years-old.

After the condition was detected in her son, she was referred for a scan which revealed parts of her heart were twice as thick as they needs to be. 

Despite the HCM being detected early, she was vulnerable to sudden death as her two brothers had died from the condition after they were aged just 20 and 34.

So she had an ICD implanted in August 2003. 

It’s surgically inserted under the skin, often within the space just under the collar bone.

Thin wires connect the ICD to the center, where it is often checking the center rate and rhythm. 

If an ICD notices a dangerous heart rhythm it sends a series of low-voltage electrical impulses at a quick rate to try to correct the center rhythm.

In extreme cases, it acts as a defibrillator, sending large electric shocks to get the center pumping again.

Danish footballer Christian Eriksen (pictured) was fitted with an ICD after he collapsed when his heart stopped beating for five minutes during a European Championship game against Finland last May

Danish footballer Christian Eriksen (pictured) was fitted with an ICD after he collapsed when his heart stopped beating for five minutes during a European Championship game against Finland last May

Over the next 19 years, the feminine patient has suffered life-threatening ventricular fibrillation — an irregular heart beat — 10 times.

The primary incident was just 17 moths after having the device put in.

On five occasions the girl was asleep. It’s unclear whether she noticed it but most patients don’t.

Throughout the events, she lost consciousness when it happened. 

Data gathered from the ICD shows that her heart stopped beating for 18 seconds — regarded as the longest duration — during her ninth near-death experience, which occurred at 4am. 

The device shocked her heart, restoring it to its normal beat. The heartbeat must be restored inside three minutes to curtail death.

Despite her close brushes with death, the girl has no other HCM symptoms. 

The doctors wrote: ‘This unique case presentation underscores the facility and sturdiness of the ICD for preserving life in patients with HCM. 

‘Indeed, in our patient, the ICD demonstrated consistent reliability over almost twenty years.’

They reported that the case is ‘particularly impressive’ since the device never incorrectly shocked her or caused some other complications. 

And just one third of HCM patients need their ICD greater than once of their lifetime. Even then, the bulk only experience one to 3 near-death experiences.

‘Subsequently, to experience 10 independent device interventions is extraordinary and doubtless without precedent in HCM practice,’ the medics added.

They called for ICDs for use more widely even amongst those that only have one risk factor of developing the condition, akin to their relations having it.