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An Ambulance Ran Over A Pothole And Ended Up Saving The Patient’s Life

Nobody likes an unfilled pothole. They’re a visual blight on neighborhood streets and if they’re left unfixed can cause damage to any vehicles that drive over them. But what if, in a certain case, a pothole turned out to be a good thing? To even save someone’s life? That may have been exactly what happened when an ambulance in Omaha, Nebraska accidentally hit a pothole during a service run to the hospital. The 59-year-old man who was being transported inside had been experiencing racing heart rhythms. During the seven-minute long ride, his heart was beating at more than 200 times each minute. Unexpectedly, the jolt from hitting the pothole slowed it to a normal pace.

Explaining How A Pothole Bump Can Help

In an interview with a local television station, Dr. Andrew Goldsweig of Nebraska, Medicine, explained the phenomenon. He said that when a patient is experiencing a rapid heartbeat one of the ways to correct it is through a disruption. That’s a role that is often shown on television dramas when doctors or other medical providers ask to use their paddles. In this case, Goldsweig reasons that the jolt from the pothole replaced the electric shock people are used to seeing in their medical dramas.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time that a jarring experience proved medically helpful. Goldsweig mentioned another well-known case from the 1970s where a patient’s rhythm was jolted into place not from a pothole, but from a speed bump. This case took place in Virginia where a man was being transported to care by paramedics in a mobile cardiac unit. When the unit took the speedbump too quickly, the jolt corrected the abnormal heart rhythm in their patient.

A New Way To Bring A Heart Back To Rhythm

The Virginia experience wasn’t simply an unexpected, odd incident. As it turned out, it inspired a new way to look at treating abnormal heart rhythms when medical staff doesn’t have access to electrified paddles.  After research, doctors developed a procedure called the precordial thump, where a blow is delivered to a patient’s sternum using a treatment provider’s fist. The blow must be delivered in a very specific way and in conjunction with other treatments and ongoing monitoring. Even under the best of circumstances, it isn’t guaranteed to work. In fact, some providers worry that it could lead to worsening rhythms.

Causes Of A Racing Heart

What can cause the type of racing heart symptoms that lead to the Nebraska man needing his hospital transport in the first place? In many people, the condition, called Myocarditis, is caused by the enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle. This condition is sometimes accompanied by scar tissue and the cumulative damage causes the heart to have to work harder in order to pump blood. While many people imagine that this kind of heart disease is prominent in middle-aged or elderly patients, the reality is that it can affect anyone. Researchers say that it frequently affects healthy, young, athletic individuals from puberty through the mid-30s. Males in this age group are more at risk than females. ‘At risk’ individuals should be very aware that the condition is serious and should seek help if they feel that they are affected.

A New Outlook on Potholes

As it turns out, the man who found himself in the ambulance in Nebraska was lucky. He received the treatment he needed and was expected to make a full recovery at home. Now, he probably looks at potholes differently than most other people, too. That’s because he’s had the lucky experience of having an unfixed hole in the roadway save his life.

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