She didn’t actually have a heart attack. She went into cardiac arrest.
When Lisa Marti woke on May 9, she had no idea her heart would stop that afternoon.
Marti, a Norman resident, said she felt fine that morning. It was a sunny day, and she was thinking about work and her uncle’s birthday party that evening.
“I got dizzy a couple of times but that was about it,” Marti said. At 39, she hadn’t considered that the dizziness she felt that morning and had experienced a couple of days prior meant something was wrong with her heart.
At work, things were busy, but no more stressful than usual.
“I remember going to lunch, and then I don’t remember anything after lunch,” Marti said.
Marti works as a medical assistant at Norman Regional’s Endocrinology Associates near the HealthPlex hospital.
“She just wasn’t feeling well that day,” Coworker Kayla Masters said. “She was saying that she was tired.”
Marti talked about going home, but coworkers encouraged her to tough it out and stay at work. That decision likely saved Marti’s life.
At 3:30 p.m., Marti texted her mother, Judy Lantz.
“She asked the party and I told her we were supposed to be there about six, but I never heard any more from her after that,” Lantz said.
At 4:30p.m., Masters and another coworker, Sherry Potter, LPN, found Marti slumped over in her chair, unconscious.
“We took her to a treatment room where we could assess her better and found that she had no pulse and wasn’t breathing,” Masters said. “We laid her on the floor and started CPR.”
As Marti’s friends worked to save her life, they had another coworker call 911.
“She didn’t actually have a heart attack. She went into cardiac arrest,” Masters said. “Her heart just stopped. Of course, we didn’t know at the time.”
Marti said in addition to having coworkers who know CPR, she was also lucky that a cardiologist’s office is right next door.
“One of the receptionists from our office went next door to the cardiology clinic,” Masters said.
Dr. Michael Villano came over to help and took over the CPR, giving Marti’s friends a break, the Norman Transcript reported.
“When the firefighters came they called me out of the room to give information about Lisa’s medical history,” Masters said, but Marti had no history of heart issues.
Firefighters got Marti’s heart started — at least for a time. EMSSTAT arrived soon after and the paramedics took over trying to stabilize her.
“It was a nightmare — I don’t even know how to describe it,” Masters said. “It was pretty devastating to see her like that. A lot of us didn’t know if she was going to make it. It was the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in a work setting, but I think we handled it very professionally. We acted promptly and did the best we could.”
Potter, who previously worked on a cardiology floor in a hospital, said trying to revive someone she knew was different from anything she’s experienced with a patient.
“It was more intense. It’s always in the back of my mind — wondering if Lisa is OK and thinking about all the ’what ifs,’” Potter said. “Things happen for a reason. Lisa asked to go home earlier that day because she didn’t feel well, but we didn’t send her home — I guess that was so we could save her life.”
When parents Judy and Henry Lantz got the call that their daughter had had a heart attack and was on the way to the hospital, they were stunned.
The anxious parents and Marti’s children, Kaitlynn, 19, and Tyler, 18, rushed to the hospital. Judy Lantz said it was the most terrifying day of their lives as they were unsure whether they would find their daughter dead or alive.
“I remember being in the ER for a short amount of time,” Marti said. “The next think I remember is I kept coding.”
Marti continued to slip in and out of consciousness. She was quickly moved to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.
“There were some good moments and a lot of bad ones,” Judy Lantz said. “It would seem like she was getting better then she would code again. It’s not easy to be holding your daughter’s head when she dies, especially over and over again.”
Marti coded about 10 times before cardiologist Dr. Muhammad Salim put in a permanent pacemaker, which stabilized her heart function.
“My potassium had totally bottomed out,” Marti said. “My magnesium was low, and there were some medications I was taking that did not mix well.”
Marti has since changed medications. She now takes potassium and magnesium and a heart medication.
Nephrologist Dr. David Williams is working with her on follow-up care.
Marti’s children and parents said they have an even deeper appreciation for their mother now and are so grateful to her coworkers and the emergency responders who saved her life.
“I’m so thankful for them,” Kaitlynn said. “We can’t thank them enough.”
“It was crazy. I was on my way home from school,” Tyler said. “You never know. Anyone can be gone at any time.”
Marti’s heart stopped on the Wednesday before Mother’s Day. Judy Lantz said she had fearful moments that it was going to be the worst Mother’s Day of her life this year, but it turned out to be one of the best.
Marti said being at work and close to the HealthPlex and other medical assistance played a role in her positive outcome, but having coworkers trained in CPR was crucial, and that’s training anyone can get.
“If my coworkers didn’t know CPR, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
First responders, coworkers, family and several members of Marti’s care team came together recently to celebrate Marti’s new lease on life. First responders from Norman Fire and EMSSTAT said it’s encouraging to have such a positive outcome and to know they played a role in saving a life.
“It’s a great feeling,” said EMT Brent Hopkins
Marti returned to work on June 18.
“I’m just happy to be alive and to have this second chance at life,” she said.