Athlete suffers cardiac arrest, hopes to raise awareness

Posted at 8:55 AM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 12:10:02-04
Nikhol West suffered a cardiac arrest when she was 22-years-old. She was a senior at Cal State Bakersfield and taking a swimming course when it happened. 
"I am extremely blessed to be alive because I was not supposed to make it, the odds were completely against me", said West.
West suffered a cardiac arrest after years of dealing with a heart condition.
"I was diagnosed in the sixth grade and they tried to find what was going on, but couldn't really figure out why it was happening", said West.
Dr. Jared Salvo works at the Central Cardiology Medical Clinic and treated West after she was transported to Mercy Hospital Southwest.
"We cooled the body when she arrived at the hospital. Cooling has been shown to preserve brain function and other organs after they have been without oxygen for some time", said Salvo.
Dr. Salvo says women are more at risk to suffer from cardiac arrest and genetics can also be a factor,
"If it happens in one family member there's a very likely chance the offspring will also inherit that same mutation occasionally it will happen spontaneously so it is important to get regular checkups", said Salvo.
Dr. Salvo says getting a victim help in the first four minutes of a cardiac arrest is crucial. 
"We know that defibrillators and CPR save lives that's why I'm involved in the American Heart Association to try and push to have at least basic CPR a High School graduation requirement for all of Kern County", said Salvo.
The road to recovery has been one of the hardest things West says she's ever done in her life.
"I was an amazing athlete and then all of sudden I have to get wheeled around, they had to tie a fork to my hand to try and help me feed myself", said West.
It took West about two years to be functional on her own again. She credits her faith in God and a doctor who she now calls her best friend.
"The way he helps me has been amazing just how much support and how much he believes in me to stay strong", said West.
Free heart screenings will be offered Saturday, Sept. 17th at PINKfest. 
9 AM - 2 PM
Mercy Hospital Southwest, 400 Old River Road
PINKfest will feature:
 Free glucose, blood pressure, body fat, cholesterol, & heart screenings
 Physician-led seminars
 Free massages
 Booths featuring local health and wellness professionals
 Food & drinks
 Shopping & giveaways