Lisa Cardillo, then 36, and her husband were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary and had just checked into a bed-and-breakfast when she felt a burning, stabbing pain in her chest. She was having a heart attack.
Cardillo’s heart stopped in the emergency room when she got to the hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Within minutes, doctors used a defibrillator to restart it, but her heart was too weak to push blood to the rest of her body. They put a tiny pump, 6 inches long and shaped like a bent stick, into the left ventricle of her heart. After a few days her heart recovered, and the pump, brand name Impella, was taken out. A year later, “I feel like I’m back to 100%,” she says. “You would not even know what I’ve been through.”