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Massive Heart Attack Moves Basketball Players to Community Action

Pick-up basketball enthusiast Elston Harris, 53, believed he was safe from heart troubles until a massive heart attack struck him down, on a South Side basketball court this past June. Harris is alive and on the road to recovery today because he received CPR immediately.

 On September 30, from 9:30 am to 1 pm, Harris will team up with his cardiologist, Dr. Marlon Everett, and Chicago Police Officer Binyamin Jones – the man who saved Harris’ life with CPR – to lead “Loving life and basketball,” a free, pick-up basketball and CPR training event at the Chicago Park District’s Foster Park, 1440 W. 84th St., in Chicago.

 In addition to remarks from Harris and Jones, Dr. Everett will share information about heart health. Certified CPR instructor Chikira Hale, APRN, will also discuss the basics of CPR and using automated external defibrillators (AEDs), as well as offer hands-on practice administering chest compressions to life-sized mannequins. This event also includes free, pick-up basketball play.

 “This event is going to be fun and informative for the community. We want everyone who plays basketball, and even people who don’t play the sport, to come out and learn about CPR, and hopefully, be able to save someone’s life like Officer Jones was able to save mine,” Harris says.

 When Harris suffered a heart attack immediately following a pick-up basketball game he fell to the ground. Several players believed he had either fainted or tripped and twisted his ankle. But Jones knew better.

 Relying on instruction he received during his Police Academy training in 2010, Officer Jones started chest compressions immediately. He administered chest compressions continuously for approximately 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived and transported Harris to AdvocateTrinity Hospital. There he received heart stent surgery, which removed a 100 percent blockage of a coronary artery, and landed Harris under Dr. Everett’s care.

 “Many people believe that being in good shape can prevent a heart episode. But in my career, I’ve heard of three men dying on a basketball court,” Dr. Everett says, adding that his former college basketball coach died on a basketball court.

 Harris ignored warning signs that a heart attack was in his near future – in Harris’ case, a mild shortness of breath and three months of unexplained indigestion. “You make any excuse in the world not to see the doctor. That’s what men do. There’s a lesson behind that,” Harris says.

 The first lesson, according to Dr. Everett, is to see your doctor annually and whenever you notice small changes in your health. “We all know that eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking are important to our heart health. But knowing where you fall on the spectrum for having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, requires that you see a health professional regularly,” Dr. Everett says.

 High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can each increase your risk for a heart attack. This is why Harris, Jones and Dr. Everett are spreading the word to everyone - especially the basketball community - to take heed of the second lesson: learn CPR.


Keywords: Advocate Medical Group, Advocate Trinity Hospital, Basketball, CPR, Healthy Community, Healthy Lifestyle, Sports

Posted in Community Highlights, Healthcare/Health Resources