Texas beauty queen suffered near-fatal cardiac arrest on football field

By Emily Joshu Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com

16:26 June 1, 2024, updated 16:32 June 1, 2024

Chloe Burke has always felt the most relaxed on a football field.

An avid athlete her entire life, the Texas native thrived as a D1 collegiate cheerleader at the University of Houston – never missing a game.

Then, one day in 2019, while in the middle of a game, the 21-year-old collapsed to the ground.

“Everything went black,” Ms Burke, now 25, told Tests would later reveal that she had suffered an abnormal cardiac arrest. There was no history of heart problems in the family.

What followed was a frantic race to save his life, involving three electric shocks to restart the organ and, ultimately, brutal open-heart surgery, during which doctors were forced to open his chest and to split his sternum in the middle to access his heart.

Chloe Burke suffered a cardiac arrest at age 21 while cheering at the University of Houston. She now raises awareness about cardiac arrest as she competes for Miss Texas.
Ms. Burke was born with myocardial bridge heart disease, although she didn’t know it until she suffered cardiac arrest.
She underwent open heart surgery and spent four months in rehab.

Despite a difficult recovery during which she had to relearn how to walk and breathe, Ms Burke was back on the football field for the next match, just 11 weeks after her operation.

Now, in her new role as a beauty queen – given the title of Miss Space City Houston last year – she dedicates her life to teaching others about the deadly heart disease that nearly killed her.

While some beauty queens are known for their desire for world peace, Ms. Burke wants to save more Americans from catastrophic cardiac events.

She is pushing for new legislation that would introduce CPR classes in schools and ensure widespread access to machines that can restart the heart using electric shocks, called an automated external defibrillator (AED).

As part of her advocacy, Ms. Burke recently partnered with the American Heart Association (AHA) and traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for two heart health bills: the Heart Health Act Heart Health Education, Awareness, Research and Training in Schools (HEARTS). and the AED Access Act.

Outside of legislative action, Ms. Burke also travels across the state of Texas speaking about the importance of heart health and advocating for your medical needs.

Although her collapse may have come as a shock, she told the American Heart Association that she suffered from strange health problems for several years as a teenager, but doctors called her “a young hypochondriac too dramatic”.

Ms. Burke said she began experiencing myocardial bypass symptoms in middle school, which worsened as she got older and more active.
“It just got worse and worse,” she said. The cheerleading effort likely led to her cardiac arrest

Ms Burke spent much of her teenage years suffering from acute pain in her left arm and chest. In college, she would pass out due to severe dizziness.

She wrote for the AHA: “I spent over a year trying to find a proper diagnosis. I was not diagnosed due to my age, gender and no family history of heart problems.

Studies have long suggested that women’s heart problems are much less likely to be detected than men’s, due to doctors’ assumptions about the typical heart patient.

A 2011 study found that women often undergo fewer cardiac diagnostic tests than men, experience treatment delays and receive less aggressive therapies.

However, cardiovascular disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, and nearly 45 percent of women ages 20 and older live with some form of the disease.



And even after her cardiac arrest – when the heart suddenly stops beating – and the surgery that followed, it took Ms. Burke more than a year to receive her diagnosis of myocardial bypass, a congenital heart defect – present at birth.

Myocardial bypass is a defect in which a person’s left artery – the main artery that supplies blood and oxygen to the brain and body – is enclosed within the heart muscle rather than on top of it.

Although this is usually harmless, in rare cases the heart muscle puts pressure on the part of the artery that runs through it, making it more difficult for blood to flow to the heart.

This can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness and heart palpitations, but repeated stress can weaken the heart over time.

It can also lead to irregular heartbeat, lack of blood flow to the heart, and sudden cardiac death.

On average, about 25 percent of people have myocardial bypass surgery, but only five percent know they have it, according to Stanford University.

Although she didn’t know she had the disease until after her cardiac arrest, she experienced classic symptoms starting in middle school.

Ms Burke said: “Every time my heart beat, this artery was compressed in my body. My brain wasn’t getting any oxygen, and the more that artery was compressed, the weaker it became.

“(My symptoms) have become more aggressive as I’ve gotten older. They were really aggressive in college. I was passing out several times a week, having to go to the emergency room several times a week because I couldn’t see anything.

“Over the years, this artery weakened because it was constantly compressed. The more I practiced, the more it compressed and weakened.

“It just got worse and worse.”

Ms. Burke now works with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about cardiac arrest and access to AEDs.
In her work, Ms. Burke lobbies for two bills, the HEARTS Act and the AED Access Act.
She hopes both bills will provide more resources and training on how to help someone experiencing cardiac arrest.

Following Ms Burke’s cardiac arrest in the field, she underwent a traumatic operation in which surgeons opened her chest to access her heart and carry out repairs.

The procedure saved his life, but the recovery was grueling.

“I had to learn how to reuse all the muscles in my chest because they were all torn,” she said.

Ms Burke was also sent to cardiac rehabilitation for several weeks, during which she did varying levels of exercise so that her heart could gradually get used to pumping and beating at higher rates.

She said: “I went through my rehab and ate, slept and breathed for 11 weeks. It was a huge mental and physical barrier, but it was something I worked on every day alone.

“And I really think that my mindset, that courage and that determination, is what got me through it quicker.”

“The more people who learn it, the more we have a proactive culture and community around us, people who can act in seconds and save someone’s life and save someone’s quality of life one,” Ms. Burke said.

Despite her setback, Ms. Burke graduated from college on time with a perfect grade point average.

She attributes her success to a strong network of friends and family, all of whom learned how to perform chest compressions and use an AED.

Ms Burke added: “It really showed (my friends) how to be proactive in situations and prepare for situations like that.

“And I think that allowed me to have such a strong support system and allowed me to start achieving great things again immediately after experiencing this huge, life-changing incident.”

Ms. Burke notes that she has a “one in a million chance” because she has had far fewer complications than many other cardiac arrest survivors.

Click here to resize this module

But she still needs to take breaks often and pace herself in her job as a personal trainer, and she suffers from dizziness.

“I have to be very aware of my own body and what’s going on in my body and know how to pace myself during certain things to avoid exhaustion coming on more quickly,” she said.

The trainer added: “When I’m training, or leading other people and fitness classes and things like that, I constantly know what’s going on in my body and how to pace myself when I reach these levels of exhaustion earlier and I expect it comes from my heart, I get tired too quickly.

However, aside from measuring her blood pressure daily and taking medication to regulate it, Burke has not had to make any major lifestyle changes.

Today, after three years of pageantry and winning the title of Miss Space City Houston, she uses her platform to educate others about the signs of cardiac arrest and prevention.

“The more people who learn it, the more we have a proactive culture and community around us, people who can act in seconds and save someone’s life and save someone’s quality of life one,” Ms. Burke said.

News Source :
Gn Health

Back to top button