On a quiet Sunday evening in October 2010, Rosemary Mento sat down to watch a movie.
But before the credits rolled, Mento became the central figure in a real-life drama. Her heart stopped beating.
She was 48 years old, a fitness enthusiast with no history of cardiovascular disease.
Mento’s son called 911 while her husband performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Emergency medical technicians continued CPR and transported her by ambulance from her home in Hockessin to Christiana Hospital.
“All I remember is blacking out and waking up in the hospital,” she said. “But I understand I was out for at least 20 minutes.”
At the hospital, the cardiac team sprang into action.
“CPR initially saved her life,” said Ajith Kumar, M.D., of Christiana Care Cardiology Consultants, who cared for Mento in the hospital. “It was our job to not only keep her alive but to work to ensure that she would have the best quality of life possible.”
To that end, Mento was placed in a medicated coma. Her treatment included therapeutic hypothermia, which cools the body.
Studies have shown that carefully lowering temperatures of comatose survivors of cardiac arrest to about 92 degrees leads to better neurological outcomes. Therapeutic hypothermia works by slowing down the swelling that can lead to brain damage, Dr. Kumar explained.
“I am really lucky to live so close to a state-of-the-art hospital,” Mento said. “Without that technology, without that great care from my cardiologists, I would not be alive today.”
She is grateful, too, for compassionate care that embraced her whole family. Providing expert, respectful care in ways that people value is The Christiana Care Way.
“My husband and sister-in-law were with me the entire time I was in the hospital,” Mento said. “We have a blended family with four children, and the nurses were wonderful — not only to me, but to my loved ones.”
After she left the hospital, she spent six weeks in Christiana Care’s cardiac rehabilitation program.
“I was very fortunate in that I didn’t have any permanent damage,” she said.
Mento left the program with a heightened appreciation for life — and for the health care system and dedicated professionals who were by her side, every step of the way.
She never returned to her stressful job. Instead, Mento began volunteering at Christiana Hospital.
“It was an opportunity to give back to the hospital that had given so much to me,” she said.
Today, Mento leads an active life, taking daily dance fitness classes and eating a heart-healthy diet.
“I make the time to work out every day because I want to keep my heart strong and healthy,” she said.
After three years as a Christiana Care volunteer, she recently returned to the workforce, taking a job in marketing for a fitness company.
“We have three kids in college, and I need to help with tuition,” she said. “Life goes on, I am happy to say.”