Officer Marc Geiger recently experienced heart problems while on duty.
He wants to share his experience, hoping to help others know the signs of a cardiac event, to avoid the trauma he went through.
Officer Geiger was working as a tactical flight officer earlier this year when he experienced pain in his shoulder that radiated down his arm. Then he felt queasy and disoriented.
He went to the hospital and went home, feeling fine.
A month later, he suddenly experienced excruciating pains while at work and wasn’t able to articulate his words. He had been misdiagnosed previously.
"I had no underlying health issues. Every year we get a physical, I take care of myself and I try to exercise. It really came out of left field. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. I take good care of myself," says Geiger
Urgent hospital visits, medical tests and numerous doctor appointments followed.
Geiger experienced atrial fibrillation (or AFib)
The American Heart Association says at least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.
Many patients aren’t even aware of how serious the condition is.
"Of course, being a police officer is a stressful job. In these unprecedented times, there is a lot of stress that is going on in every field, in every family and every household. So I think stress plays a factor, which would lead me to recommend that if you are feeling something or experiencing anything out of the ordinary, not to take it lightly." says Geiger
These surprise cardiac events can happen anywhere at any time like in Geiger’s case.
Some signs of AFib are: general fatigue, rapid or irregular heartbeat, fluttering or “thumping” in the chest, dizziness, weakness, sweating, and chest pain or pressure. The last being a medical emergency. you should then call 911. The main difference between AFib and a heart attack is fluttering and palpitations.
A recent study done by the European Society of Cardiology shows these highly stressful, unprecedented times have led to a higher risk for cardiac events for first responders.
The stressful job increases the threat for AFib.
The good news: Geiger is doing well and his heart is being monitored 24 hours through a device that is barely noticeable to him. The device is called LINQ II Insertable Cardiac Monitor.
He is now working with Henderson Police Department as a community relations officer.
"The support from the department has been awesome and I’m back at work, not missing a beat.... This condition hasn’t shortened my tenure or my career or even my future opportunities," said Geiger
Heart conditions remain the number one cause of death in Nevada, but there are treatments and ways to reduce the risk caused by AFib like strokes, clots, and heart failure. The National Heart Association advises people to speak with their doctor as soon as possible before it’s too late.