Scientific advances helped save man’s life after sudden cardiac arrest

Bruce and Gail Markel

Bruce and Gail Markel of Poughkeepsie had always been active – they were gym members, Gail is an LPN, and Bruce putters all day.

But in January 2017, when Bruce was 70, he had a sudden cardiac arrest.

“He hadn’t been acting like himself,” Gail Markel said. “Our daughter talked him into going to the doctor. I went to start the car, and he had just turned back to get something from the bedroom, and I heard what I thought was a snoring noise. It was Bruce, purple and gasping. I called 911, got him on the floor and started CPR.”

Bruce Markel is one of the survivor honorees who was honored at the Virtual Dutchess Ulster Heart Walk on Saturday, April 18.

Scientific advances saved Markel’s life from the time that his wife started CPR until he went home again.

“I don’t remember anything until I ended up in the hospital,” Markel said. “I know that Gail saved my life; the EMTs saved my life; and Dr. Gorwara saved my life.”

Dr. Simon Gorwara of Nuvance Health is Bruce’s cardiologist, and chair of the 2020 Virtual Dutchess-Ulster Heart Walk. He connected Bruce to the American Heart Association, so that he could share his story and help raise awareness about heart disease.

“Dr. Gorwara had diagnosed Bruce with AFib, and his sudden cardiac arrest happened before he was supposed to have shoulder surgery,” Gail said. “A string of horrible events happened after Bruce was hospitalized. He had to have cardiogenic shock, and he was packed in ice for 24 hours, to lower his body temperature. He had a bleed in his abdomen, which was resolved when a coil was put in. He had kidney failure and was put on dialysis. For 19 days, he was intubated. He was in a medically induced coma for a month. Then, one day, he looked at me, and I knew he was there.”

From the hospital, Bruce went to cardiac rehab. Today, he has a stent, and takes medication for his cholesterol and blood pressure.“At reha

b, I had to learn to walk again,” Bruce said. Before all this happened, Bruce remembered feeling fatigued, but not in pain.

Everyone worried whether Bruce would survive, but he pulled through, and after his ordeal, Gail threw a “Celebrate Life” party for Bruce. Today, he is feeling better and looking forward to being outside and walking more, and spending time with family.

Gail’s advice?

“Try to live a healthy lifestyle, and eat right. Go to your doctor, have a checkup, and do what the doctor says.”

Bruce also has advice: “Everybody should know CPR.”

Money donated to the Virtual Dutchess-Ulster Heart Walk will help the American Heart Association fund research that will develop procedures like the ones that saved Bruce Markel’s life. Donations will be accepted until June 30 at

The AHA has funded more than $4 billion in research since it began 95 years ago. The AHA has fast-tracked $2.5 million in research funding about COVID-19 and cardiovascular diseases. The AHA is helping to instruct in the proper use of oxygenation and ventilation, has extended the date for CPR certification, set up the “Kick Cabin Fever to the Curb” program for families, and has established a user-friendly Coronavirus section at