Mr. Soma Ambadapudi, an avid runner, failed to make it to the finish line of the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon due to cardiac arrest. However, he is happy with the care he received and has been recovering well.
The 49-year-old civil engineer had a massive heart attack at the 8-mile mark. He is alive today thanks to the timely care he received from a team of cardiologists led by Dr. Prakash Balan of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Dr. Balan, who performed an emergency heart surgery on Ambadapudi, said, “Mr. Ambadapudi suffered cardiac arrest secondary to a massive heart attack and received 40-50 minutes of nonstop cardiopulmonary resuscitation on his way to the hospital.”
In the United States, thousands of people have cardiac arrest every year, but unlike Ambadapudi, many of them do not survive it.
The half marathon runner had a major problem. His heart stopped pumping blood because one of his main coronary arteries was completely blocked.
To restore blood flow, Dr. Balan used a miniaturized heart pump, a device that is considered the world’s smallest heart pump that keeps the heart pumping temporarily while cardiologists repair the underlying issue.
Ambadapudi was discharged from the hospital after a few weeks and then he started a rigorous rehabilitation program. He is not a typical heart attack patient; he is not overweight; he does not smoke; and he exercises regularly.
“I had finished the same race the year before with no problems. I jog. I go to a gym regularly. I thought I was in pretty good shape,” said Ambadapudi.
A little over the halfway mark, Ambadapudi started feeling chest pains. He recalled, “I walked off the course and into a service station. I sat down on the floor and I felt like I was going to throw up. I called my wife (Lakshmi) and she said to call an ambulance.”
He added, “I remember the paramedics and being taken to the hospital and that was about it. Everything was running together. I can’t say how grateful I am for the help I received from Dr. Balan, the paramedics, the nurses and the rehabilitation specialists, everyone.”
Dr. Balan often advises people to seek immediate help on experiencing the warning signs of heart problems. Ambadapudi said, “If you have chest pain, see a doctor. I did and I’m glad I did.”