Man Saved by Bystander Teaches Others the Importance of Hands-only CPR
Bobby Ballard had just finished a three-mile run when he had a heart attack. Thankfully, one of his running partners knew hands-only CPR. Without it, Bobby wouldn’t be alive today.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Missouri, taking the lives of over 14,000 Missourians each year. Each month, #NoMOHeartDisease, the American Heart Association’s statewide effort to increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of heart disease, features a different survivor from Missouri. October’s featured survivor is Bobby Ballard of Joplin, Missouri.
In early 2010, at almost 300 pounds, Bobby Ballard was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Bobby knew it was time for a change, so he started eating better and took up walking to lose weight. By November, Bobby had dropped 70 pounds and was walking six miles a day. Determined to become a runner, Bobby enrolled in the Joplin Y’s “Anyone Can Run” class. Bobby had just finished a three-mile run with his classmates when he became tired, got some water and sat down. That is all Bobby remembers for the next six days.
Bobby Ballard suffered a severe heart attack after his run. A nurse who was in Bobby’s running class recognized his symptoms and immediately started CPR while another classmate called 911. EMTs soon took over and had to use a defibrillator seven times just to keep Bobby alive on the way to the hospital. After arriving at the hospital, things continued to look grim. Bobby’s wife, Jane, was told to gather their family as doctors were unsure if he would make it through the night. Surgeons inserted three stints to stabilize him for the short term, but Bobby still required a triple bypass surgery a few days later. When Bobby woke up six days after the heart attack that nearly took his life, he had no memory of what had occurred. Bobby had not experienced warning signs of a heart attack, and heart disease was the last thing he thought could happen.
After three days of physical therapy in the hospital, Bobby was released to go home. Starting slowly, he began to walk--at first just to the mailbox and around the yard. Three weeks later, he was back up to three miles. Bobby even walked in the Armed Forces 5K just five weeks after his triple bypass--the very race he and his classmates had been training for when he had his heart attack!
Today, Bobby is a running coach who is training for his 8th marathon. Bobby is also helping others learn the importance of CPR. Of why he supports #NoMOHeartDisease, Bobby commented, “Hands-only CPR and stents, both developed thanks to research funded by the American Heart Association, saved my life. Many more lives will be saved through the education and training the Association provides.”
More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year in the U.S. About 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die, according to the American Heart Association. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. Yet, less than half of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a bystander.
You can learn more about Bobby, as well as other Missourians affected by heart disease and stroke, at heart.org/nomoheartdisease. The American Heart Association also posts about the initiative on their Missouri Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Survivors are encouraged to share their stories by using #NoMOHeartDisease on social media. Video production services for the #NoMOHeartDisease initiative were donated by Rogue Route.