A tennis player from Rochester, Indiana, who was 18 years old, suffered a cardiac arrest right after he finished his warm-up laps.
Drew Strasser had just finished his warm-up in the gym when he suddenly collapsed last August.
Jake, a friend and teammate, rushed to his aid and began CPR as coach Jesse Atkinson went to grab an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart while someone called 911. Their prompt response most likely prevented the teen’s death.
“His friend, his 18-year-old teammate who works as a lifeguard — luckily he handled the situation right,” Laneia Strasser, Drew’s mother, told TODAY. “Nobody knows how you’re going to react to a situation like that, and he did what he needed to do.”
After an hour’s drive in an ambulance, doctors were able to stabilize his condition.
“We were just shocked. It didn’t seem real. He’s never had any passing-out moments before,” Laneia Strasser said. “He’s never had any signs of heart issues. It just completely came out of the blue.”
An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) was recommended to be placed in the young athlete’s chest because the doctors were unable to determine the underlying cause of the sudden cardiac arrest the athlete experienced.
Drew Strasser’s sudden cardiac arrest has left his doctors baffled.
“If there is a reversible cause or something that we can treat, we do not need the ICD,” Kean said. “His diagnosis is what’s referred to as idiopathic ventricular fibrillation, which basically means we don’t have another diagnosis.”
“They told us, ‘No he didn’t have a heart attack. It was that he was in sudden cardiac arrest,” Laneia Strasser said. “It was very traumatic. Scary, scary, scary morning.”
(“Sudden cardiac arrest” is defined as the “abrupt lost of heart function, breathing and consciousness” whereas a heart attack is when “blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked,” according to Mayo Clinic. A heart attack may trigger sudden cardiac arrest.)
His parents couldn’t believe what was happening. Drew Strasser always participated in sports and never had any health problems. Just three weeks earlier, he’d visited his doctor for a physical, and nothing abnormal with his heart was detected.
After doctors at the nearby hospital stabilized the teen, he was transferred to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where doctors tried to figure out why his heart wasn’t working properly. Seeing him in the cardiac intensive care unit on a ventilator with no explanation for he went into cardiac arrest was already tough for Drew Strasser’s parents. But then, he became seriously ill.
“By Sunday, he had developed a lung infection, and he took a turn for the worse,” Laneia Strasser said. “His blood pressure kept dropping really low. They (gave) him really strong antibiotics.”
After a few days, he was able. to remember why he was in the hospital. But he still felt surprised by his situation.
“I didn’t believe what was going on because I hadn’t thought anything was wrong before, and I’ve never had anything like this happen at all,” Drew Strasser told TODAY. “It’s scary and confusing.”
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