Man’s racing heart rate returns to normal after ambulance hits pothole

OMAHA, Nebr. — On April 15, Jeff Hall began having chest pains while undergoing training for work near Gretna.

“It just kept getting worse and worse,” Hall said.

His co-workers called 911. Gretna’s Volunteer Fire Department responded.

“They were checking my heartbeat and one guy told the other ambulance guy, ‘I think there’s something wrong with my machine. There’s 233 beats a minute,'” Hall said.

The rate for an average adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to doctors.

Paramedics didn’t waste time and loaded Hall into an ambulance. They were headed to CHI Health Lakeside Hospital when something happened.

“We hit a bump,” Hall said.

That bump was a massive pothole.

Jeff Hall

“I was laying down and they kept checking on me and stuff and then boom everybody flew up and landed. And your heart? That felt great,” Hall said.

To Hall’s surprise, the jolt from the pothole put his heart rate back to its normal pace. He didn’t even require a hospital stay.

A few weeks later, he’s back at CHI Lakeside for a checkup with a cardiologist.

“He doesn’t have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, ” Dr. Hussam Abuissa said.

Abuissa said that what happened when the ambulance hit the pothole isn’t incredibly rare, he’s just never seen it happen that way.

“Hitting a pothole or a sudden jolt of any kind can cause what we call an ectopic beat,” Abuissa said. “Hall was suffering from supraventricular tachycardia, which means there is an extra connection or communication between the top half of the heart and the bottom half of the heart”

Sometimes being startled or jolted will revert those patients’ heart rates to normal. Hall is now preparing to have a procedure to fix the problem.

“The good thing about this arrhythmia it is very benign it does not kill people with heart disease, it does not affect the heart function. He’ll be OK,” Abuissa said.

The strange story has captured worldwide attention, including headlines in the New York Post, NPR and the Daily Mail.

“I just tell them I’m the pothole guy,” he said.

And he’s just happy his heart is going to be all right.

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