BETHPAGE, NY (CBS New York) “When a Long Island woman went into cardiac arrest, her husband’s split-second decision probably saved her life.
Now she tells CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan how she’s spreading the word about the dangers of heart disease.
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“I’m just happy to be alive because you think this will never happen to you,” said Valerie Meritz, 65, of Massapequa.
Meritz realizes that the moments with his grandson have almost always been ripped off.
“I didn’t feel well and knew something was terribly wrong, and I just said to call the ambulance,” she said.
It was a month ago, and Meritz was about to suffer three heart attacks in 90 minutes.
“Even though I’m trained in CPR, I saw she was pale and ashy, but when I touched her foot, it was clammy,” Meritz’s husband Martin Saccente said.
Saccente’s actions to urgently call paramedics for help saved his wife’s life. They got married 40 years ago.
“It’s teamwork. It starts with calling 911,” said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
While on his way to the emergency room, Meritz’s heart stopped twice.
“She went into cardiac arrest again in the back of the ambulance. I shocked her again,” said Nassau police medic Thomas DeHaan.
As they rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, she came to.
“While we were talking she started to lose consciousness and then I saw the beat going like this and said something was wrong,” said Dr Joseph Chirayil, deputy director of emergencies.
Meritz again lay flat and for the third time the medical team brought her back.
“We were able to perform a balloon angioplasty on this blockage, open the artery and restore blood flow to the heart,” said St. Francis Hospital cardiologist Dr. Sidharth Yaday.
“It’s very emotional, very emotional,” Meritz said.
Meritz later learned that her warning signs were classic — sharp pains in her chest, upper abdomen and back, as well as nausea, fatigue and dizziness.
“The only restriction I have is that I can’t pick up more than 20 pounds, so I can’t pick up my grandson,” she said.
“I’m lucky,” Saccente said.
Sacce and Meritz say her mended heart gives Valentine’s Day new meaning.
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Meritz, her husband and children — one is an NYPD sergeant, the other a doctor — are on a mission in February, which is Heart Health Month, to raise awareness.