Sudden cardiac arrest almost killed this 32-year-old professional dancer

When Ashley Newman woke up on May 5, 2016, she went on with her day like any other. He had a work meeting, went to a doctor's appointment and changed a bridesmaid's dress for alterations, all in the middle of the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Newman, who has been a dancer all his life, rehearsing for a show by The Chase Brock Experience later that night, a dance company he had been with for years. The 32-year-old had spent the last few years teaching, and was excited about the possibility of re-introducing himself. "I was totally fine, I was dancing, I felt good," he recalls.

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And then, everything gets a little fuzzy. Once the rehearsal ended, Newman and his fellow dancers saw some versions of the routine on their laptop. The last thing you remember is to put it in your purse, just before you suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, a condition in which your heart's electrical system gets out of control and your heart stops beating abruptly.

While she does not remember it herself, Newman was suddenly leaning against the wall, falling to the ground. The eight dancers in the room with her, a former student, some who had been at her wedding, noticed that she slipped. Terrified when they realized she was not breathing properly or responding, they called 911. She started to turn blue and her pulse faded. At that time, knew they had to do CPR immediately .

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They were not trained in CPR, but the dispatcher convinced them, telling them to push down hard and fast, counting chest compressions aloud as they tried to save their friend . Minutes later, emergency services arrived. Newman was surprised once with a defibrillator, and his pulse returned.

"They were terrified, but they listened to the instructions, and they kept doing what they were supposed to do, that's why I'm here," he says. .

Newman would not rebuild these moments until the next day, where he finally woke up in a hospital room with a breathing tube in his throat. Leaving the fog, she opened her eyes and saw some of the dancers, her husband, her parents and her mother, who lives in Florida, standing there with a suitcase. It was then that he realized that something terrible had happened to him.

CPR played a critical role

If Newman's friends had not administered CPR, his point of view would have been discouraging. Only 46% of victims of cardiac arrest get the help they need before the EMS arrives, and 92% die before reaching the hospital.

Learning CPR is easier than you think. Experts no longer recommend word of mouth, and instead adhere to this three-step process:

  1. Check if the person responds. A person who suffered cardiac arrest will not breathe or move, and may turn blue.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Start with chest compressions by hand only at a rate of 120 per minute (you will hit the correct number if you sing "Staying Alive" for yourself and compress the chest to the beat). With the palm of your hand, press hard; You must compress the chest about 2 inches for the CPR to work.
    1. Life after cardiac arrest

      To this day, Newman's doctors are not entirely sure why their heart is not working well. "Because I was not using a heart monitor at the time of the sudden cardiac arrest, nobody can know exactly why this happened or what triggered it," says Newman. However, he was diagnosed with catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), which means that his heart rate increases or becomes irregular in response to exercise.

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        Ashley Newman Dancer Heart Failure

      Ashley with Chase Brock, her friend and artistic director of the dance company The Chase Brock Experience, who He called 911 and trained the dancers in CPR.

      Ashley Newman

      "I can not feel it, and after rehearsing on May 5 I also did not feel that my heart rate increased abnormally more than any of the other thousands of times I danced," he explains. This was strange, because his entire career was marked by countless exhausting essays, clbades and shows.

      Most people who suffer cardiac arrest do not survive before reaching the hospital. Of those who do, many suffer brain damage, problems walking and other serious complications.

      Newman has recovered remarkably. While she had a permanent defibrillator installed under her left arm, a device that is sewn into her muscle to track her heart rate, Newman has hardly had any health problems after his incident. That's why he still finds it hard to believe that it happened. She was only 30 years old and never felt any symptoms.

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      "For me not having warning signs, that's something I fight with," he explains. "How could I not know? How could I not feel it?"

      "After all this, I honor my body in a different way than I did before"

      The worst part? I was not sure if I would ever dance again. But only one year after his cardiac arrest, Newman took the stage. The Chase Brock Experience was celebrating its tenth year, so, naturally, they gave a great show. Slightly nervous at first, she danced for 12 performances, along with the people who saved her life. Even some of the first EMS speakers came to the hearing to support it.

      "I got to act in that program, I had a lot of fun," she says, feeling a little excited. "I really tried to live in the moment, dancing, and being able to move my body in space, in a way that feels good, I do not take it for granted anymore, I feel I was more present and had the best time, more than any I danced again, I think that all this experience gave me that gift, in a certain way. "

        ashley newman dancer cardiac arrest

      Ashley dances at the tenth anniversary presentation in December 2017.

      Ashley Newman

      Although she feels relatively the same person, the perspective of Newman's life has understandably changed . "Especially when I think about how weird it is to survive something like that, I definitely stop in my days," he says.

      And even though he had no warning signs before his cardiac arrest, he believes that staying in sync with his system through exercises like yoga is now more important than ever.

      "After all this, I honor my body in a different way than I did before, as a dancer, I always did, but I also abused him," says Newman. "The dancers use their bodies, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and I think there is a new lesson for me in really paying attention to what I feel and notice, and if something is not right, I really notice it"


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