It's a condition that effects 1 out of every 50 people in the United States, though many might not know they even have it. It's called Mitral Valve Prolapse and in most cases it's harmless. But in rare cases, simple chores can become life threatening ordeals.
For Darrel Semmler July 21, 2012 was like any other day.
"I kissed my wife goodbye and said I loved her and said I'll see you later not knowing that it would be four days later before I did see her again." Said Semmler.
Darrel and his brother Ron had planned to spend the day shingling his parent's roof, but within minutes of putting in the first shingle, everything went black.
"Apparently I just collapsed, I guess I was just hunched over and didn't know what was going on." Said Semmler.
"I've been in the fire service for 30 years, EMS for 22, and it's the first time I've ever worked a cardiac arrest on a roof." Said Doug Glover, an EMT with Mitchell Public Safety.
When Glover arrived on scene, Darrel had no pulse but his brother Ron was still doing CPR. Darrel's wife Flo says she felt helpless as she watched from the balcony.
"They did the paddles on him and he jumped, then the machine said we had no pulse so I really hollered up at him and told him Darrel don't leave me!" Said Flo Semmler.
"They shocked him I believe twice and he recovered spontaneous respirations and circulation so that was good because it happened fairly quickly." Said ER Physician Dr. David Balt at Avera Queen of Peace.
Darrel says he never felt any pain and that he just went to sleep.
"The last thing I remember is I looked over and saw Dan and Ron to the right of me and the next thing I knew it was Tuesday afternoon and my surgery was done." Said Semmler.
Darrel was airlifted to the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls for a mitral valve replacement and a defibrillator was placed on his heart. Darrel had what's called mitral valve prolapse, which essentially is a leaky valve in his heart that allowed some blood to flow in the wrong direction. When that happens it can cause an irregular heart beat or in Darrel's case, heart failure.
"It's like electricity going to your heart and when you short out electricity it shorts it and stops it and you're gone." Said Semmler.
Darrel says the reason he's still here is due to the quick response from EMS, but without immediate CPR from his brother, Darrel may have never made it off that roof. They may not seem like much, but simple chest compressions could make all the difference.
"You know everybody says that you can be lucky for the next day but if it isn't for all the prayers and God's help and that stuff there wouldn't be a tomorrow." Said Semmler.
"People should get to know how to do CPR because you never know when it can happen and you can save a life." Said Dr. Balt.
Most of the time, mitral valve prolapse does not cause any symptoms. But if you experience chest pains, palpitations, or fainting spells that get worse, you should get checked out. For more information about CPR and other heart conditions just call 877-AT-AVERA.