Patient Care

Teamwork Saves Retired Restaurateur after Sudden Cardiac Death

Jun. 5, 2012
Seamless response from friends, URMC Heart and Vascular Center repairs heart problem
Richard "Duff" Rund, at right, and Bill Florance enjoy regular tennis matches. Rund is recovering from coronary artery bypass graft surgery after surviving sudden cardiac death last month.

Richard “Duff” Rund considers himself incredibly lucky. He survived sudden cardiac death –and he credits fast action by friends on the tennis court, an automated external defibrillator and seamless care by the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center.

“This is a situation where everybody worked together and saved Mr. Rund’s life,” said Charles Lowenstein, M.D., chief of Cardiology, who cared for Rund after the May 7 incident. “Great teamwork led to a great outcome.”

Rund completed a round of tennis with friends including retired physician Jerry Krackov, M.D., emeritus professor of Medicine at URMC, and Norman J. Lederman, D.D.S., retired Fairport dentist and member of the faculty at the Eastman Institute of Oral Health, and stopped to watch others play.

Charles Lowenstein, M.D., chief of Cardiology.

“I felt dizzy for a few seconds and then it hit me so fast that I went over like a bowling pin,” Rundsaid. His heart stopped and he collapsed.

Krackov and Lederman immediately began caring for him and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The staff at the tennis club grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED), raced to Rund and used it to restart his heart.  

An ambulance rushed Rund to Strong Memorial Hospital. Cardiac testing dismissed initial suspicions that he suffered a heart attack, pointing instead to sudden cardiac death.

Peter Knight, M.D., cardiac surgeon.

Sudden cardiac death claims up to 330,000 American lives every year, accounting for about half of all cardiac deaths. Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, leading to sudden cardiac death if it is not treated within minutes. Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest are due to abnormal heart rhythms that can result from blockage of coronary arteries or scarring from a prior heart attack.

Closer examination in the URMC Catheterization Lab revealed the underlying disease that contributed to Rund’s cardiac arrest. He had undiagnosed coronary artery disease, leading to an electrical malfunction that caused his heart to suddenly stop beating, Lowenstein said.

Rund needed coronary artery bypass graft surgery, which was performed May 9 by cardiac surgeon Peter Knight, M.D., a key member of the URMC Heart and Vascular Center. The HVC brings together cardiology and vascular physicians, surgeons and support staff to provide a team approach to care.

“Mr. Rund has recovered completely,” said Lowenstein.”Across the nation, more than 90 percent of people never recover from a cardiac arrest, but he is alive because of the fast action of friends who administered CPR and used the AED and the expert care by our team. All of us are very happy for him.”

“When the doctors told me what had happened, I couldn’t believe it,” said Rund, who operated restaurant and catering businesses in the area. “I’m in good physical condition, I’m in good health and I exercise. I never thought I could have heart trouble.”

According to the American Heart Association, about one third of all Americans have some form of heart disease, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke and other conditions. By 2030, experts estimate that about 116 million people in the United States will have some form of cardiovascular disease. 

URMC’s Heart and Vascular Center has a long history of providing comprehensive care to patients, with expertise in all specialties of clinical cardiovascular medicine, with regional dominance in electrophysiology, heart failure, heart transplantation, vascular medicine, aortic surgery and pediatric heart surgery. URMC is also the only upstate New York site that performs heart transplants.