Woman goes into cardiac arrest several times

A local woman had to be shocked back to life after her heart stopped beating.
 
Lori McCulloch who's from Altoona is only 52 years old, but she has a really bad heart.. Fortunately, Lori also has an advanced heart failure specialist in charge of her care, who recently opened up shop in the city.
 
Lori learned she was in heart failure, when she went to the emergency room, with what felt  like muscle spasms in her chest.
 
"I always said when I turn 50 life's going to begin. It did, I got a defibrillator," she says, smiling. Doctors also  implanted a stent.
 
The treatment helped keep her alive, but Lori's heart function continued to deteriorate putting her in  congestive heart failure several times.
 
She says," In 2015 March 5th, I actually had perished.  I was code blue for ten minutes."
 
An emergency team at UPMC Altoona revived Lori, and she was referred to advanced heart failure specialist Dr. Jonathan Holtz, at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.
 
Dr. Holtz says, "Her life had been saved and she came back to us, but  unfortunately she was left with a very weak heart, her heart was pumping at only about 15 percent, with someone having normal heart function of about 60 percent.
 
He says, at that point, the only way to keep Lori alive for any period of time was a heart pump, and then a transplant. But, that required several medical evaluation tests and getting Lori's insurance coverage on board.
 
In the meantime, while continuing to see patients at UPMC's Heart Transplant and Heart Failure Clinics in Pittsburgh, Dr Holtz,  a Cambria County native, brought his advanced specialties to Altoona, where he continued to follow Lori.
 
Dr. Holtz says,"Shortly after, she had 2 more cardiac arrests, where she had died twice and was resuscitated here in our hospital, and she had also died once in the helicopter enroute to Pittsburgh was successfully shocked back and had her life  restored."
 
But , Lori was in end stage heart failure, so Dr. Holtz prescribed a special IV medicine,  24/7 to help keep her blood flowing,  as she completed her evaluation for a heart transplant.
 
Just recently, Dr.  Holtz told her she's been approved and is listed very high on the transplant list. 
 
Lori's says she's nervous about the future, but she has a lot of faith."I live every day to my fullest and I always when I go to bed I say "guide me safely through the night, guide me to the beauty of the morning light because every day's special," she says.
 
Dr. Holtz is on UPMC's heart transplant selection committee and sees patients at the heart  transplant clinic and ventricular assist device (heart pump) clinic. He's also an assistant professor at Pitt's school of medicine. However, with his practice now headquartered at Station Medical Center, he says he spends 95 percent of his time at UPMC Altoona.   
 
 
 
 

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