BAYONNE, NJ - Jonathan Mari, a 21-year old resident of Bayonne, wasn’t completely ignorant of heart issues when his father suffered a heart attack in their Bayonne home on May 2.

A recent graduate from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science focused with a major in Sport Management and minor in Economics, Mari had taken part in an American Heart Association Health E-heart Study, a three-month opportunity  to explore how to end heart disease.

But Mari had no experience in the practical application of life-saving CPR and had to learn it as he went along, eventually saving his father’s life. “I was in my room,” Mari said. “My dad had taken a nap. He was under the weather.”

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His father was showing signs of a heart attack. “He passed out, and turned blue,” Mari said. “I called 911. They got me on the phone and told me what to do.”

During any cardiac arrest, a simple procedure can prevent serious heart and brain damage until a defibrillator can restart their heartbeat. By pushing hard and fast on the appropriate part of the chest, since oxygen remains in the blood for up to five minutes even when the heart is not pumping, a person applying CPR can continue blood flow and oxygen to the brain and heart. The application also provides a clicker to which a person can time his or her pushes. 

Experts say every minute delayed decreases the person’s chances of recovery by ten percent, and that someone applying CPR immediately can prevent death and major heart damage.

“They told me to get him on the ground and impress his chest,” Mari said. “I took him off the couch and impressed his chest until the paramedics arrived. It was scary while it was going on. I was just hoping for the best. I also had in my mind the Coronavirus.”

The EMTs when they arrived tested for COVID-19.

“It wasn’t the virus,” Mari said. “They told me it was a heart attack.”

His father, 60, got treatment and is currently going through therapy. “I guess he didn’t have the best diet,” Mari admitted. “He’s recovering. He’s being monitored and goes in for a weekly checkup.”

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