Sandy Kawamoto will always be thankful her husband, Jim, saved her life. It happened in their home outside Portland, Oregon at 3:30 in the morning in 1990. Sandy was up nursing their baby. Jim woke up to fix a pipe that had broken in the bathroom. It was a good thing he was up. He checked on Sandy. She was on the floor of the baby's room and not breathing. Her heart had stopped – cardiac arrest – because of an inherited condition, "long QT syndrome" that Sandy never knew she had.

Jeff immediately started doing CPR and it gave Sandy a chance to be among the 10% or less of Americans who have cardiac arrest and survive. Later Sandy had a small defibrillator implanted in her chest. She also takes a beta blocker medicine. Fortunately, the defibrillator has never had to fire, but it stands ready should she need it.

A genetic test developed in the years after Sandy's cardiac arrest showed her two children also have long QT syndrome. They take beta blockers too and are doing well.

This family has much to be thankful for at this Thanksgiving time. Unfortunately, people like Sandy, whose heart stopped and was revived, are the minority of people who suffer cardiac arrest. Now much research is underway to determine who needs preventive intervention and who doesn't. But there is a "crossover" between coronary artery disease and electrical problems in the heart – not always, but often. So stopping smoking, losing weight, exercise, eating a low fat diet all help lower your risk of cardiac arrest and sudden death.

For more on this check out our program with Sandy. Here's wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and wonderful upcoming Holiday Season.