House Calls: Sudden cardiac death

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Julia Sims began experiencing symptoms of severe fatigue, upper neck and back pain and indigestion in the beginning of January 2011.

She sought the care of her primary care physician who administered an EKG, then referred her to a cardiologist who administered a stress test.

Both screenings revealed normal results, yet three months later, on March 19, 2011, she suffered a massive cardiac arrest due to a hundred percent blockage in her main artery.

Because she was not experiencing the classic signs of heart disease or heart attack, such as severe chest pain, she ignored her symptoms and tried to move on with everyday life.

Julia wants to build awareness in the community, especially with women, to always listen to your body.

Sudden onset of symptoms or increase in severity of symptoms such as chest, shoulder, neck or back pain, fatigue, indigestion, shortness of breath and nausea can be a sign of a serious cardiovascular condition in women.

Never ignore your symptoms; be persistent in receiving the proper medical attention.

Julia’s husband, Jeff, and daughter, Brett, thought Julia was just having a tough bout with the flu.  Jeff Sims quickly realized this was not the case on the afternoon of her massive cardiac arrest.

Julia lost consciousness; and Jeff saw that her eyes were set and yellowish and she was not responding.  Jeff immediately called 911 and within a minute of the call, the 911 operator was coaching him through administering CPR on Julia.

Within four minutes, the fire department arrived and firefighter, Ed Hampton, hooked Julia up to an automatic defibrillator (AED) and began administering shocks.

Fast action is of upmost importance in an incidence of sudden cardiac arrest—call 911 immediately.  It is imperative that a cardiac arrest patient gets to the emergency facility within the quickest time frame possible.

Once Julia arrived at Moses Cone Hospital, she was rushed to the catheterization lab, where Dr. Jonathan Berry, cardiologist, was able to re-open her main artery through the use of balloon and stenting.

Julia and her family truly believe her life was saved through the collaborative emergency system we have in place within the community.

Our community’s healthcare professionals are devoted to increasing the successful outcome rates of cardiac arrest patients, with an exceptional emergency system team and

Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center ranking among the top cardiovascular centers in the state with an average door-to-balloon time of 55 minutes.


Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Jonathan Berry is a cardiologist and the cardiovascular section chief at Cone Health.  Dr. Berry is a 1983 graduate of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, completing his residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center.

He specializes in interventional cardiology and peripheral vascular disease, completing fellowships at both Duke University Medical Center and University of Michigan Hospitals.

Julia Sims and Jeff Sims, originally from Morganton, NC, have called Greensboro home for the past twenty years.  Julia works for Prudential Yost and Little Real Estate in Greensboro and Jeff works for Lazar Industries in Siler City, NC.

Julia is the survivor of a massive cardiac arrest, which occurred in March of last year, and is now on a mission to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

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