Published on February 03, 2022

On Heart Month, West Fargo police officer applauds Essentia Health for lifesaving care 

February is American Heart Month, and no one knows the importance of cardiovascular health more than West Fargo police officer Tim Brown and the entire West Fargo police force.

Brown was booking two suspects into the Cass County jail when he suffered a cardiac arrest that left him unresponsive and on the ground. When jail staff found Brown, they immediately began lifesaving medical aid before first responders transported him to Essentia Health.

Essentia doctors identified a complete blockage in Brown’s aorta. The clot was then removed and stents were placed to keep the passage open and improve blood flow.

Next, Brown went to the ICU, where cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr. Julio Williams put Brown on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, a life-support device that supports blood circulation via bypassing a blockage. Once Brown was stabilized on the ECMO, he was transferred to Nebraska.

Brown’s care team initially thought he had a 0% chance of survival. They later changed his prognosis to 0% chance of survival without a heart transplant. They also feared that he had suffered extensive brain damage.

Fortunately, Brown never needed a heart transplant and didn’t have any brain damage. Today he is alive and well, having already returned to work and raising his young family. His survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Brown is grateful for the care he received at Essentia.

“I’m impressed with how they handled the situation and how dedicated they were in ensuring I pulled through,” he said. “At first, chances of my survival were 0%, but they persisted.”

Tragically, Brown was not the first West Fargo police officer to suffer a cardiac event last year. In May 2021, West Fargo Police Lieutenant Adam Gustafson died of a heart attack at work. Calling Gustafson an “outstanding officer,” Brown remembers how his death motivated several colleagues on the police force to get their hearts checked. 

Being proactive about heart health is key

As the leading cause of death in Americans, heart disease accounts for one in every four deaths in the United States.

Essentia Health cardiologist Dr. Rory Farnan urges individuals to remain proactive in monitoring their heart health.

“As health care professionals, we know that ‘life is for living,’” Dr. Farnan said. “We want to help our patients achieve this goal, but we can only do this if they come to us for assistance in preventing heart disease. I encourage our patients to speak with their healthcare professionals to ask them what they can be doing to stay healthy and prevent cardiovascular disease. We want to help our patients enjoy all that life has to offer.”

In addition to regularly checking in with your physician, here are a few more tips to maintain good heart health and prevent cardiovascular disease:

  • Be physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.

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