Healthy Living: Seattle woman says CPR from stranger saved her life

One step at a time, Laura Vanderpool finds balance.

"When I've been walking over an hour, I get giddy," said Vanderpool, a working wife and mother in Seattle.

Vanderpool walks because it makes her happy.  She also walks for another reason.

"My heart story is kind of interesting," Vanderpool tells Q13's Marni Hughes.

High cholesterol runs in Laura's family.  She's active, eats right and exercises, so she and her doctors were not overly concerned about her heart.  Until one day on a bike ride with a friend Laura slowed down, fell over and flat lined.  Laura's main artery was 90% blocked and she had gone into sudden cardiac arrest.

"There was a guy who had just got his EMT certification a week before," said Vanderpool.  "(He) happened to be on the ride, here's (my friend) yelling and immediately realizes he needed to act."

Each year, the American Heart Association estimates 350,000 people go into sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.  Statistics show if CPR is performed immediately, it can double or even triple the chances of survival.

When it comes to CPR, Suzi Crickmore, a certified CPR instructor says the biggest mistake people can make is NOT doing CPR.

"They're afraid they're going to hurt them and we know you can't hurt this person (because) they're in the process of dying," Crickmore said.  "If you don't push on their chest they will not be able to be resuscitated."

It's been 10-years since Laura's heart attack.  She changed her job to reduce her stress and now spends more time with the people she loves.  She also is on medication to manage her cholesterol and sees her doctor regularly for check-ups.

Laura also made time for another passion: music.

"I've had a guitar around my neck wince I was 7," Vanderpool said.  "It's just as natural as breathing."

When she isn't playing music, she's walking, wherever her feet will take her.  In fact, her favorite hike is from her office in Seattle to her home in West Seattle.  It's a journey that can take up to 2 hours on foot.

Laura understands everyone marches to a different beat, but as a heart attack survivor, she says there's one tune that rings universal.

"My only takeaway from the whole thin is everyone should learn CPR because it's what saved me," said Vanderpool.