Omaha woman says CPR saved her life, urges people to be ready for heart attacks

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, causing a third of their deaths each year, according to the American Heart Association.

And the group says awareness of the disease is slipping.

So, the American Heart Association is spreading the word by asking people to wear red on Feb. 3, while also learning how to help someone who is having a heart attack.

Ginny Curley, an Omaha woman, was saved by CPR when she went into cardiac arrest.

She said it happened one night about 12 years ago when her husband woke up to her gasping for air.

He tried to wake her up but that’s when she stopped breathing altogether.

“He called 911, and the dispatcher did a great job, she talked him through how to turn me over, how to start doing chest compressions, so he started administering CPR right away,” she said. “And then about three and a half minutes later the paramedics arrived and they were able to shock me back into rhythm.”

Curley said she’s grateful to be alive and wants more people to learn more about the risks of heart disease.

“The reality is, especially younger generations of women are less aware of their risk factors for cardiac events,” Curley said. ” I hope it’s a reminder for people that there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to CPR and heart health.”

Curley said that women are less likely to receive CPR from a bystander because people fear being accused of inappropriately touching someone.

“As a woman, I could care less who performs CPR on me, I just want to be alive,” she said. “The reality is, if there’s a woman in need of help, the first thing she’s worried about is her life.”

Chris Shives, executive director of the American Heart Association, said 70% of the time someone needs CPR, it will be outside of a hospital.

“Every 34 seconds someone will have a heart attack and every 38 seconds someone will have a stroke,” he said. “So we have hundreds of thousands of people every year that are impacted by cardiovascular disease and may need the lifesaving technique of CPR to be administered.”

Shives said the first thing you should do if someone is having a heart attack is call 911 and find the closest defibrillator.

After that, you should push hard and fast on the center of a person’s chest until help arrives.

He said the pace should be at about 100-120 beats per minute, similar to the beat of songs, like “Stayin Alive,” “Uptown Funk,” or even “Baby Shark.”

Shives said by equipping people with CPR training, they will be more comfortable acting in an emergency.

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