Duane Bratvold suffered a heart attack while he was at home on May 3, 2012. That’s when the 54-year-old Bonney Lake man pushed the restart button on his life.
Bratvold had just arrived in a U-Haul truck, from Virginia to Bonney Lake, when it happened. His wife called 9-1-1.
“The day I had my heart attack, East Pierce Fire paramedics were training nearby on advanced lifesaving techniques,” he said.
The techniques were related to emergency situations that involved ventricular fibrillation, a potentially fatal condition during which the electrical impulses that control heart pumping become irregular.
When Bratvold was rushed to MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, doctors found that’s exactly what Bratvold was experiencing.
Bratvold was put into a medically induced coma, and Dr. Daniel Guerra put a stent in his heart. Guerra later told Bratvold he flatlined multiple times during surgery.
“It was a group effort by Dr. Uma Krishnan and Dr. Guerra, who we consider part of our extended family,” Bratvold said in a report published on MultiCare’s blog. “We were all touched by this event.”
Last May, Bratvold celebrated what he called his first birthday. He had all 18 paramedics over to his Bonney Lake home to reunite.
“It was the neatest reunion,” he said.
Following his heart attack, Bratvold has made it a goal to share his story with as many people as possible. He serves as a board member for the East Pierce Fire and Rescue Foundation, and one of his passions is to help raise money to offset the cost of books and supplies for instructors who teach CPR to east Pierce County residents.
“In the nation, Bonney Lake is the third best place to have a heart attack,” Bratvold said. “Because of the CPR training being offered in Bonney Lake, there is a 38 percent survival rate.”
Bratvold said Good Samaritan provided remarkable care.
“I’ve never been with so many people who are so compassionate,” he said. “You can’t train compassion. I don’t usually like hospitals, but I’ve fallen in love with this one.”
These days, Bratvold looks for opportunities to share his experience.
“I preach hope,” he said. “I could’ve been dead, but I’m not. If I could keep one guy from going through this, I can die a happy man. What a legacy that would be.”
Bratvold joined Krishnan at MultiCare Auburn Hospital on Feb. 10, when he spoke to more than 30 heart attack survivors.
“Every chance I get to talk, I take it,” Bratvold said.
Bratvold also has made some changes to his lifestyle.
“Exercise and eating right is probably the biggest thing I’ve changed,” he said. “You don’t have to give up all the foods you like, you just have to do things in moderation.”
Before he had a heart attack, Bratvold said he smoked two packs a day and never paid attention to any news about heart disease.
Krishnan, a cardiologist at MultiCare’s Cardiac Study Center, said age and family history can be risk factors. Men at age 45 and women at age 55 are more susceptible to heart attack. Those who have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol also fall into that category.
“Smoking is a big modifiable risk factor,” Krishnan said.
Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, Krishnan said.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.